The Garda Commissioner has received a copy of the Sixth Report of the Morris Tribunal which deals with issues surrounding the arrest and detention of a number of individuals in Donegal in the mid 1990s.
In fully accepting the report’s findings the Commissioner said:
"The powers of arrest and detention bestowed on members of An Garda Síochána carry profound responsibility and the community is entitled to expect that gardaí will exercise those powers appropriately and that every member of An Garda Síochána will work to protect and uphold the rights and dignity of the people they encounter in the course of their duty.
It is a matter of profound regret to me and to An Garda Síochána that this was not the experience of the individuals whom this report finds to have been mistreated by members of the organisation as identified by Mr. Justice Morris. I want to take this opportunity to apologise to those people. It is also deeply disappointing that the Tribunal found that some members of An Garda Síochána were less than forthright in their dealings with the Tribunal."
The Commissioner continued: "This report together with previous reports from the Morris Tribunal, have identified significant failings which An Garda Síochána is addressing.
Our resolve to do so is evidenced by the extensive change and modernisation programme upon which we have embarked in recent years. This reform programme has been greatly assisted by recommendations from the Morris Tribunal and further steps will be guided by the firm recommendations of this report.
In particular, deficiencies identified in this Report will inform ongoing intitiatives which are focused on training in An Garda Síochána. These include the recently established Review of Training and Development, the new crime training faculty, the appointment and specialised training of dedicated Senior Investigating Officers and the development of a Major Investigation System to support criminal investigations."
Referring to the fact that this report has a particular bearing on regulations and systems for the protection of persons in custody, the Commissioner said: "Garda procedures relating to powers of arrest and detention are subject to ongoing review and revision by Garda management.
In recent months we have issued revised guidelines on the rights and protection of persons in custody to all members, which have been extensively updated to incorporate recent legislative changes and to reflect best practice. The emphasis in these revised guidelines is on the requirement to promote respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. A new information leaflet for persons in custody is being circulated and work has also been completed on a revised Garda Síochána Custody Record."
Speaking about the commitment of An Garda Síochána to high standards in policing, the Commissioner said: "The vast majority of gardaí perform their duties in an ethical manner, never violating or abusing the authority granted to them and working at all times to meet the needs of the communities they serve. The small minority who fail to observe those professional standards do a grave disservice to their colleagues and dishonour the history and tradition of a proud organisation."
Commissioner Murphy stated that the report will now be examined carefully with a view to fully addressing the findings of Mr. Justice Morris regarding the conduct of individual members of An Garda Síochána.
The Garda Commissioner said he committed to working with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to identify any further changes which are required to address issues identified in the recommendations in this Report.
The Commissioner concluded by saying: "I am determined to lead this organisation through the daily challenges of meeting the needs of modern policing and I am committed to ensuring it meets those challenges in a way which respects the dignity of all persons and works closely with communities to solve their problems. We are fortunate to have thousands of men and women working in An Garda Síochána who are committed to securing safe streets in our cities and towns and a peaceful countryside. My priority is to ensure those dedicated individuals have the policies, resources and leadership required to enable them to fulfil that important role."
Garda Press Office
7th May 2008.