GSOC: should we scrap it and start again?
One of the greatest and most memorable maxims that was drummed into us during those formative years was - justice delayed is justice denied.
It appears, however, that GSOC (Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission) didn’t get that memo.
Because for the last couple of years, GSOC have been conducting THREE investigations relevant to Kerry.
Two of these concern how gardaí may have policed the licensing laws in Killarney and whether there was improper garda involvement in alleged voter registration malpractices before the last local election.
The third GSOC investigation concerns how gardaí handled a woman’s complaint about what she considered improper behaviour by a public figure in Kerry.
(We can’t be more specific about these matters, despite the enormous public interest, for one simple reason - we don’t want to end up in the High Court defending a defamation action because of our notoriously medieval, anti-free speech, anti-democratic defamation regime which has every tinpot dictator in the world licking his chops.)
GSOC was established to ensure that gardaí would be held accountable for wrongful behaviour. The Garda watchdog has a crucial role to play to ensure the relationship between the gardaí and the public remains one based on trust.
It’s extremely damaging, therefore, when GSOC is shown to be such a slowcoach in its investigations.
Following queries from Kerry’s Eye, GSOC has, in effect, picked a spot on the wall and refused to say anything at all about their investigations. They feel, apparently, that they have the right to silence - even to the public, in whose interests they’re supposed to operate.
GSOC need to straighten themselves out.
One of their inquiries is into possible electoral fraud involving one or more gardaí - an issue that cuts to the democratic nature of our state.
Policing of the licensing laws by gardaí engages the issues of fairness, illegality and corruption - again matters of fundamental importance.
The third case is about how the system treats elites and whether they get preferential treatment by agencies of the state when they step out of line.
The longer GSOC delays, the more persuasive is the argument that the agency is simply not fit for purpose.
The evidence against GSOC is mounting. Perhaps we need to scrap it and start again.