Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny TD, while speaking at today’s (Sunday) Michael Collins commemoration at Beal na mBláth, has called for an Garda Síochána to be reformed saying that the Morris Report has raised issues of public confidence and morale in the force.
Deputy Kenny said that he supports Irish involvement in a UN force in Lebanon provided it is peace-keeping rather than peace-enforcing and that it the support of the Israeli and Lebanon Governments. He also called on the Sinn Fein Provisional Movement to stop defending those who profit from criminality and support the police structures in the North.
Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Kenny said:
“Many may have disagreed with Collins’s politics but no-one could doubt his principles. 84 years on from his death, they’re the principles that drive Fine Gael and the principles on which we fill fight the next election.
Garda Reform and the Morris Report
“The publication of the Morris Report raises serious issues and challenges for the Gardaí and there are two critical issues: Firstly, a Garda Siochána, itself, whose morale is surely reeling from the body blow that is the Morris Report. And secondly, public confidence in the Gardaí.
“I condemn, outright, the shameful, dishonourable behaviour of some members, addressed in this Report. Any man, any woman who answers Michael Collins’s call to public service, must have absolute confidence, and an absolute guarantee, that the government and their agents will set, uphold and demand the highest standards of integrity, ethics and probity.
“Public confidence in the police force is indispensable to faith in democracy. I want to see reform of An Garda Siochána that will see a serious improvement in its performance.
“Let’s get our highly trained, highly motivated Gardai to make the most of their skills, their potential, their passion to serve, by implementing new work practices that are proven to raise the game and get results. Our Gardai are eminently capable of accommodating, even welcoming that kind of reform.
“If we are serious about modernising our police-force, we should look at adding to their skills base. Opening up senior Garda positions to experts from outside the force, whether that be recruiting experienced officers from overseas, or others with expert skills in specialist areas, from the wider community.
“One of the big success stories in the fights against crime is the CAB. It’s working well nationally. Now, let’s see it work equally well locally. I want the CAB to be given whatever it needs to reach beyond the national crime bosses, to the mini-godfathers peddling misery in the smaller towns around Ireland, their lavish lifestyle, a public mockery of their ‘official’ income. It’s time to use the CAB to make that vital difference.
The Irish Army and Lebanon
“Discussions are ongoing about a new UN peacekeeping force for the region. I will support Irish involvement in such a force provided, firstly its mandate is peace-keeping, not peace-enforcing. And secondly, if I am confident it would have the co-operation and support of the Lebanese and Israeli Governments.
The Provisional Movement and Policing
“The Provisional Movement has made notable progress in its move from terror but to complete the journey, firstly, they must accept an Garda Siochana and the Army as Ireland’s sole, legitimate source of law and order.
“Secondly, they need to accelerate their own internal debate on supporting and joining the new police structures in Northern Ireland. Only then will power-sharing be sustainable and the truly inclusive police service, envisaged under the Good Friday Agreement be realised.
“Sinn Fein must stop defending those who profit from criminality, and start to support the legitimate law -enforcement bodies. Equally, I want to see the loyalist paramilitaries turn away from violence and crime and I urge the Irish and the British governments, to intensify their efforts to encourage those in Loyalism, who want to pursue their aspirations, to do so through purely democratic means.
“Michael Collins would no doubt feel, that though we have come a long way, still, we are only starting. We are a young, successful country, an ancient compassionate people, welcoming the new. I believe that our transforming journey has only just begun, and once we start to make the most of our wealth, the most of our opportunities, there will be just no stopping us.”