The absence of due process and fair procedure by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) is evident every day of the week, according to the general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Antoinette Cunningham.
The head of Gsoc, chief commissioner Mr Justice Rory MacCabe will tell the Oireachtas Petitions Committee on Thursday the commission does not have the minimum staff and resources necessary to investigate gardaí and that these numbers should be doubled.
He will also say Gsoc investigates, but does not prosecute, suspend or discipline gardaí and that these are decisions for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Garda Commissioner.
Ms Cunningham told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that Gsoc had received over 1,800 complaints, but many were admitted and therefore did not require investigation. There was no assurance for the AGSI that increased staff or budget would mean more timely investigations.
“The absence of due process and fair procedure is evident every day of the week in the dealings that AGSI have. Members are simply left out there for years and years and years with no accountability for how long their investigation takes.
“They’re abandoned into a system that doesn’t seem to work. There’s no oversight of what they do, and now they’re seeking further unfettered powers to carry out investigations with no detail of what those investigations will consist of or indeed how long they might take,” Ms Cunningham said.
Gsoc has never conducted investigations with speed, with some AGSI members remaining under investigation for between four and six years, she added.
“I’ve seen members who have had suspensions and returns to work delayed because of inefficiencies in their system. I’ve seen members of An Garda Síochána abandoned into systems where there’s no communication, no updates.
“Years and years of sitting in limbo. Their professional and private lives, their families affected, their reputations, their mental health and wellbeing all affected because there’s no accountability for an investigation that can be opened and simply go on for years and years and years.”
“It’s totally unacceptable. It does not allow the constitutional rights that apply to every citizen in Ireland to be applied to An Garda Síochána and the members in our association have suffered greatly because of that,” Ms Cunningham said.
Asked about reports that she refused to leave Gsoc’s offices after a recent meeting, Ms Cunningham said if somebody was suffering because of an unfair system, then representative bodies had to be the voice for those members.
“If we’re not doing that, then we’re not doing our job.
“I did indicate to them that I would not leave there until the information was passed over. I stand over that stance, and that’s borne out of simple inefficiencies in a system that doesn’t allow communication to go across from one office to the other with no accountability for that,” she said.