Naive’ to think young gardaí are different to peers when it comes to addiction or corruption
Tue, 08 Jun, 2021 – 20:30 Ryan O’Rourke
It would be naive to think that young people who join An Garda Síochána are any different from the general public when it comes to addiction or corruption, according to Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn.
It comes after it was announced last week that random mandatory drug testing for all An Garda Síochána members is to be introduced within six months.
Speaking at a Limerick joint policing committee, Mr Finn responded to a query from Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin, who asked his view on Garda members possibly being drug tested.
Mr Galvin described it as “disturbing news” and compared it, from the public’s perception, as “the foxes minding the chickens”.
However, Mr Finn said that the “guards are of the people, in that they come from the people”.
I think one would be naive to think that in today’s world, that the young people who join the Garda Síochána are any different from the public out there.
The drug testing will come as part of An Garda Síochána’s new Anti-Corruption Bureau, which will investigate corruption within the force.
Mr Finn said: “We’d like to think that the people who we bring in respect the values that we have within the Garda Síochána”, but added that “international best practice” would recommend having “controls in place to be able to monitor the behaviour of our people in the Garda Síochána”.
“It is not seen to be a punitive thing,” he added.
He went on to say that if there are people who are in An Garda Síochána and “they get addicted to prescription drugs, or non-prescribed drugs, illegal drugs” that it is important that “we would be aware of it, and we will be seen to help those that need help.”
He stated that policy is in its infancy.
However, he added that they are no different from any other police force around the world, anti-corruption is something that gardaí have to be mindful of.
Money can corrupt anybody. We would be naive within An Garda Síochána to not to be aware of that and to take some measures.
In a statement last week, the Garda Representative Association criticised how the policy was communicated, but said it is 100% committed to a zero-tolerance policy on drug-taking by any members of the force.
“We are at the frontline and have seen first-hand the devastation and damage that drugs and the associated criminality inflict on communities.
“As such, we do not oppose random drug testing of our members but we must ensure that any such policy would be carried on in a fair, measured, balanced, and appropriate manner without infringing on members’ individual rights.
It stated that the main concern is with the manner in which this issue has come to light, having, at the time, not seen any documents regarding the policy, or being made aware that the policy document was at such an advanced stage.
It added the association was also not informed of the press conference launching these policies. “Which, we believe, is disrespectful to frontline gardaí and our representation.”
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn said “international best practice” would recommend having “controls in place to be able to monitor the behaviour of our people in the Garda Síochána”. File picture