Gardai, Hate Change, well Boys, get used of it, Abuse of Powers, Bullying People, and the Rogue Cops, is slowly coming to a End, we Hope???

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Union fears proposed garda powers will be challenged as racist

  8 hrs ago

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The largest garda union has hit back at a Policing Authority recommendation that officers should be required to record the ethnicity, age and gender of people who are stopped and searched.

There are “complex ethical and rights issues” to be explored in detail before gardaí could “contemplate” being put in a position to “categorise individuals”, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said.

Bob Collins, chair of the Policing Authority, told the Oireachtas Justice Committee last week it would be “naive and self-delusional” to think Ireland was completely different to other countries in the profiling of people who are subject to police searches.

“We don’t have any information at all on the nature of stop and search: its extent, the age, the gender, the ethnic indicators of those people who are stopped and searched,” he said.

Mr Collins said a requirement that data is held on who is stopped and searched should form part of the Garda Síochána Powers Bill, which was being discussed at the Justice Committee.

Brendan O’Connor, vice-president of the GRA — which represents more than 12,500 rank and file members — was highly critical of Mr Collins’s remarks.

“Our membership will have no issue at all with transparency of their actions but the issue of ethnicity and identity are very personal,” he told the Sunday Independent. “There are very complex ethical and rights issues that would have to be explored in detail before we could contemplate gardaí being put in a position to categorise individuals and record such sensitive information.

“As such, we believe the objective should be ensuring the highest possible level of professionalism to every member of the public without giving any consideration to these issues.

“Human rights are something that underpins all policing and personally I am not sure that categorising the public into sub-groups based on narrow definitions, or the perceptions of an individual garda, would compliment the concepts of equality and human rights, however well intentioned an initiative might be.”

A senior security source, who works in a particularly ethnically diverse part of the capital, said what the authority was suggesting was in itself “racial profiling” and could cause considerable problems in practice.

“For example, if I stop two young men for a drugs search and one is white Irish and the other is black Irish, to ask the black Irish man where he is ‘ethnically’ from is in itself racial profiling and a racist question,” the source said. “It would lead to that person feeling understandably discriminated against based on their skin colour. I absolutely would not do or instruct my staff to do it.”

Some government TDs and senators on the committee outlined “serious concerns” that the new bill is unconstitutional. The bill also proposes to grant An Garda Síochána additional powers to sign off on search warrants and to exclude “disruptive” legal counsel.

Green Party TD Patrick Costello said he was “deeply concerned” and for any warrant to be “truly independent” it would have to be someone from outside An Garda Síochána.

Fine Gael senator and senior counsel Barry Ward said some of the bill is contradictory to the current system. “I cannot see a circumstance in which it will be justifiable for a garda to decide that a lawyer was being disruptive, because that is exactly what their job is. Their job is to be disruptive, to represent the rights of the person who’s being questioned,” he said.

“Disgusted it is maybe a bit strong, but I think it is absolutely extraordinary that this provision has found its way into the heads (of the bill).

“To my mind it is unconstitutional, and I have grave difficulty with this and I would be very unhappy if this found its way into the bill when it is drafted.”

Mr Ward added that a senior garda issuing an emergency warrant was not “justifiable”: “I don’t think we should be putting those kinds of powers into the hands of the gardaí because, again, you will always find an urgency if you look for one.”

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