Tue, 01 Jun, 2021 – 15:32 Cianan Brennan
The infiltration of An Garda Siochána by an organised crime gang and drug-taking among force members are among the allegations which have been made to a new Garda Anti Corruption Unit.
The launch of the new unit in Dublin also heard that random mandatory drug testing for all An Garda Síochána members is to be introduced within six months.
Such drug testing may be carried out at a Garda’s home where sufficient suspicion of inappropriate behaviours exists, Assistant Commissioner Pat Clavin, to whom the unit will report, told the launch.
Regarding the complaints received by the unit thus far, its lead officer Chief Superintendent Jo O’Leary acknowledged there have been “a small number of complaints to date”.
“There are some around drug-taking, there might be infiltration from organised crime groups,” she said.
Asked to clarify that there had been at least one complaint around the infiltration of organised crime within the gardaí, Ms O’Leary said: “There is just a complaint, mostly around that, but I don’t want to comment any further.”
Mr Clavin repeatedly told the launch that, rather than a suspicion of rampant drug-taking among gardaí as a whole, he is “worried about the effect of drug-taking on Irish society” in general.
The new unit, which was first recommended by a policing review in 2015 and the existence of which follows best practice among other police forces internationally, was launched in tandem with the release of three new Garda policies: on anti-corruption, professional boundaries and abuse of power for sexual gain, and substance misuse (controlled drugs).
“Maintaining full public confidence in the work of An Garda Siochana depends on all Garda personnel demonstrating the highest levels of personal and professional standards of behaviour,” Asst Cmmr Clavin said.
Each and every person working in An Garda Siochana is rightfully expected to treat the public they serve with dignity and respect.
The Anti Corruption Unit is to be headed up by Chief Superintendent O’Leary, formerly the head Garda in the Westmeath division, with two Detective Superintendents below her and a team of 23 below that.
It will receive complaints from Garda members only. Public complaints regarding alleged Garda corruption will continue to be delivered to the Garda Ombudsman (GSOC). Briefings for the news media regarding the work of the unit are expected to begin in mid-June, with similar updates to continue throughout 2021.
In terms of drug testing for gardaí, a policy which was first mooted at the beginning of this year, Mr Clavin said that a third-party provider is expected to be put in place in the near future to carry out that work.
Under that new policy pre-employment tests and testing of recruits in training will be carried out, as well as random testing for all personnel, Mr Clavin said.
He acknowledged that full dismissal for a Garda following one offence “would be the appropriate sanction”, and said that criminal investigation and prosecution will follow should there be enough evidence to bring a charge.
Ordinarily drug-testing “will happen in the workplace”, he said, but “if we have information that a Garda is using drugs” then testing on foot of a warrant may happen at a member’s home.
Asst Commr Clavin said that the work of the new unit “will be both proactive and reactive”.