Thousands of Gardai blatantly refuse to sign the Code of Ethics. Will Garda HQ lose control or regain control of the entire An Gardai Siochana?

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A huge own goal’: Why rank-and-file gardaí are refusing to sign the code of ethics

The GRA said the organisation is not delivering on its commitment to vital training for members.

Image: Leah Farrell/

RANK-AND-FILE members of An Garda Síochána are still refusing to sign the code of ethics written by the Policing Authority for the organisation.

The authority was previously informed by garda management that less than 40% of the force had signed up to the code, which includes a duty to uphold the law, honesty and integrity, respect, privacy, transparency and “speaking up” about wrongdoing within the force.

At last month’s meeting authority member Patrick Costello said he was disappointed to hear that some members were not signing after they had completed training on the code.

Assistant Commissioner for the Dublin Metropolitan Region Pat Leahy said management knows who has and hasn’t signed and that part of the problem was “a couple of technical issues”.

“I’ve no doubt at the end of it we are going to have a cohort of people who have not signed and we will have engaged with them. There’s a very different conversation we’re going to have to have with them at that stage,” he said.

Leahy said management has engaged with the representative associations on this issue, and told authority members it would be “a huge own goal” if they can not get this over the line.

Acting Commissioner Donall Ó Cúaláin also said at this meeting that he was open to hearing the concerns of gardaí in relation to the code. Authority chair Josephine Feehily reminded senior gardaí that she wanted it to be made clear to rank-and-file members that they could not be promoted if they do not sign the code.

According to the Garda Representative Association (GRA), the problem  centres around general training deficiencies, which gardaí believe will hinder their ability to live up to everything promised by the code.

Director of communications John O’Keeffe said it was not good enough to simply have gardaí sign up to the standards, the organisation “must also be seen to make a commitment to observance”.

“We feel that the process thus far has failed in that regard. Our members are being asked to declare adherence, yet the organisation itself is not delivering on its corresponding commitment to our membership – particularly in the area of training,” he said.

For example, in November last year the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017 was enacted. This implementation of this legislation requires our members to have intimate knowledge of its content. Still they have no specific training in this important piece of legislation.
Last year also saw the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2017 which at Section 3 provides for the detention of intoxicated persons. There has been no CPD (continuing professional development) in respect of this provision, which poses risks to both our members and An Garda Síochána.

O’Keeffe highlighted a number of other areas which he said are in “urgent need of an update to training”, including:

  • Risk assessment
  • Rousing checks (on prisoners)
  • First aid
  • Restraint risks
  • Custody handover
  • Treatment of intoxicated prisoners.

“Ethics come with professionalism and as such there is an onus on An Garda Síochána as a responsible employer to provide adequate, continuous and up to date professional development, training, information, equipment, facilities and employee assistance to a minimum standard, such that all our members may be as effective as possible and reach their full career potential,” he explained.

“In the absence of organisational support to achieve professional competency, the Code places an unfair burden on the individual member.”

O’Keeffe said the GRA and its members have no issue with the promotion of ethical behaviour.

“Indeed the overwhelming majority of those people entering An Garda Síochána are naturally predisposed in this regard. Ethical behaviour is at the heart of policing and the work these men and women undertake everyday on all our behalves.”

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Jul 29th 2018, 7:41 AM

Because the majority are corrupt power trippers.

Jul 29th 2018, 7:51 AM

@Daithi: or maybe trolls on the Journal love to make sweeping generalisations?

Perhaps they have a point, they are signing up to upholding a standard to enforce the law, but garda management aren’t providing training as to new laws that the garda are to maintain. Looks to me like the GRA are calling management out on what this code is, a PR exercise without any real organisational effort or change behind it

Jul 29th 2018, 8:34 AM

@Vocal Outrage: so we need training in honesty first ? Sounds a bit weird. Just give them a dictionary.

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Jul 29th 2018, 8:54 AM

It is unethical to sign up to an ethical code you know you can’t abide by.

Jul 29th 2018, 10:05 AM

@alphanautica: it’s unethical to act like the public is the enemy

Jul 29th 2018, 1:15 PM

@Genius 80s+: what about the members of the public that are the enemy?

Jul 29th 2018, 8:01 AM

I have heard horror stories of Vulnerable women going to their Garda station to give statements on abuse.

The Gardai thinking “she is a bit of an alirght” and following up with some “house” calls , to try and manipulate the woman in distress into bed. Which can and does happen . One station in particular this is an on going thing.

No wonder they don’t want to sign.

I have also seen huge improvements with the Gardai. In particular with the Protective Services. Which are streets ahead of the usual rank and file, but they need to be housed in different stations , I wonder why that is ?

A work in progress

Jul 29th 2018, 8:12 AM

@Mr Jerry Curtin: you might be better off letting the Garda ombudsman know if that’s the case rather than passing on this vital information via a journal comment.

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Jul 29th 2018, 9:17 AM

This is thr thing. They will eventually sign up but it will make no difference what so ever to there behaviour

Jul 29th 2018, 10:07 AM

@ChuckE: their

Jul 29th 2018, 9:27 AM

It is like they want the good cops to tell on the bad Cops everybody knows that is not going to happen.

Jul 29th 2018, 10:17 AM

just fire them 🙂

Jul 29th 2018, 12:16 PM

Assistant Commissioner trying to be the tough guy with those comments, what happened to his people skills? Hopefully the brass hats in the Park will get the heaveho when the new commissioner starts, otherwise nothing will change.

Jul 29th 2018, 3:13 PM

Change in any organisation must start from the top and work it’s way down. How can the current Garda management expect others to follow ethical guidelines when senior officers who are called before a tribunal of investigation can’t find their laptops and mobile phones which is state property and are required to be handed back in retirement/dismissal

Jul 29th 2018, 11:19 AM

Lets leave corruption to one side because those involved would have no problem signing this code of ethics. There ethics won’t change by signing a piece of paper.
Look at how stupid this notion is from the Policing Authority, are drunks going to sign a code of ethics or those in a domestic argument expected to sign a code of ethics before guards get involved. someone high on drugs going to reach deep into there ethics when dealing with Gardaí. Its hard enough for Gardaí dealing with public order without being subjected to a code of ethics. Gardaí may stay in the station and allow anarchy reign on our city streets at the weekend. instead of finding themselves accused of breaches of horse manure ethics.
Either we trust guards or we don’t. Some are good, some are bad but in general we must support the force no matter what we think about legislation they enforce created by elected fools.

Jul 29th 2018, 11:49 AM

@leartius: what’s silly is that all gardai have already agreed to these ethics. Gardai sign documents, code of conduct and swear an oath before hitting the streets.

So while all this shit is being pushed, gardai are waiting on training for the real stuff like how to implement the changes and work within new laws and systems.

Jul 29th 2018, 3:32 PM

The Code of Ethics was brought in I believe to allow for a clean slate after the breath test scandal. Not signing it – just shows how much those Gardai care about that scandal !! They were given that chance to start again – and they got off very light regarding the breath test scandal. It’s unbelievable how they try to call all the shots, they are definitely a law unto themselves.

Jul 29th 2018, 3:27 PM

1.5 million fake breath tests, and they need training on how to be honest ? Pull the other one – always excuses, excuses, excuses – and always the same story with the Gardai, we don’t do this until you give us this. Just like children.

Jul 29th 2018, 3:57 PM

There will many many more training courses to be done going forward – so we will have to wait until they complete all next years courses and the year after that and so on while they continue refusing to sign the Code of Ethcis – which is about upholding the law, honesty and integrity, respect, privacy, transparency and “speaking up” about wrongdoing within the force. I definitely am glad to see a new Commissioner coming in – and hopefully he will put a stop to all this nonsense. The Gardai continue to try to hold the country to ransom until their needs are met. People are sick of it.

Jul 30th 2018, 10:36 PM

@Rita Gleeson: the new commissioner coming in is a creep, so you should look into him first, and then let us know how they are holding the country to ransom! Clearly, along with a few others on this – you like buzz words and talking out of context!

Jul 30th 2018, 11:50 PM

A force capable of generating over 2 million fake breath tests should be focused on restoring public confidence and not engaging in the usual nit picking. We saw similar behaviour in regard to the introduction of the Pulse system – stonewall as much as possible in the hope of squeezing more dosh and more concessions from a weak Government. Let’s be clear about the breath tests which were – fake data entered and false claims of work completed and overtime credited for it.
Not one Garde lost his job over this.
The force should
concentrate on rebuilding public confidence instead of nit picking.

Jul 30th 2018, 5:17 PM

Uphold what LAWS, does this apply to all TOTAL citizens or Men & Women .. Its the made up stuff, acts and statues they uphold for a state, if they upheld the law, all the barristers “self governed body” which takes instructions from UK , solicitors and judging would be in jail

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Reading the above article which I have written about myself in other blogs, I find it most alarming that after Scandal after Scandal in our An Gardai Siochana that thousands of officers refuse to sign the Code of Ethics.  The GRA and the AGSI have their own problems between bullying, intimidation and alleged false accounting, which had to be financially resolved with Revenue and when payments had to be made to the Revenue.  Let’s face some facts here:  a decent businessman who employed 140 people, Mr Begley, along with his brother, some years ago got 7 years for incorrect tax submissions.  It was referred to as the “Garlic” case.  At the time, the Minister for Justice, interceded and released Mr Begley.  It was Judge Martin Nolan who gave that awful sentence – ironically a former Garda himself and later a ministerial driver before studying law and we know where we can find him now on a daily basis – in the courts.  Back to the Gardai.  If Charlie Flanagan and Commissioner Drew Harris cannot get the thousands of Gardai to sign off on the new Ethics Bill (which is now legal) and I presume mandatory, then the exit door or some serious talking is  needed most urgently.  The Gardai want society and the people to behave in a dignified manner but don’t forget that the people of Ireland expect their Police service to behave the same and more importantly to have a Code of Ethics and Honesty and Transparency in dealing with the people they give an Oath to serve. Some of the comments above, by a variety of people are most interesting.  I thank for this.


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