Tuesday, 8 April 2003
Garda Síochána (Police Co-Operation) Bill 2003: Second Stage.
Joanna Tuffy (Labour)
I thank the Minister for being present and for his contribution. I welcome the general thrust of the Bill. It obviously derives from implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the Patten report recommendations.
As a general principle, it is positive that members of each police force should be able to apply for certain posts in the other police force and have opportunities for secondment. I agree with Senator Walsh that the Bill is positive from the point of view of North-South co-operation and building a relationship between the different communities and the two Administrations.
There are issues I wish to raise on which I shall table amendments on Committee Stage. Senator Terry referred to one of these matters, namely, the provisions in sections 5 and 6 regarding breaches of discipline by members on secondment. Similarly, I suggest that these sections highlight the need for common standards in our investigation procedures. The legislation also highlights the need for a Garda ombudsman in the Republic similar to the one in the North. The inspectorate proposed for the South, which probably will not be established for some years, is inferior to a proper ombudsman.
Section 3 should make provision whereby people on secondment to the Garda Síochána would be deemed members of that organisation. This is not included in the Bill and I am interested to hear the Minister's response. I think Senator Walsh mentioned the provisions that do not apply in respect of a person appointed under section 3(4). Will the Minister clarify why they do not apply to seconded people? I welcome the general thrust of the legislation.