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Garda commissioner admits controversies 'have an impact' on force

Garda chief Noirin O'Sullivan has admitted she is worried confidence in the force is taking a battering amid a welter of controversies.

Under cross-examination by one of the force's official watchdogs, the commissioner said it will take some time to uncover the full impact of ongoing scandals.

"Am I concerned about any impact on confidence? Of course I am," she told the Policing Authority during a public meeting in Dublin.

Ms O'Sullivan also accepted relentless negative revelations swirling around the force, in the media and in public commentary, were taking their toll on her rank and file.

"Of course it has an impact," she said.

"There is no doubt about it, it will take some time to see what the impact on confidence is.

"I think we have to work really hard to reassure people that the day job is continuing to be done and we are there for people in their times of need."

Josephine Feehily, chairwoman of the Policing Authority, said although she would like to put certain questions to the Garda chief, she could not quiz her on allegations being probed by the recently established Charleton Tribunal.

The public inquiry is probing claims Garda top brass orchestrated a smear campaign, including false sex abuse allegations, against a high-profile whistleblower who exposed wrongdoing in the force.

But Ms Feehily asked Ms O'Sullivan if she could reassure the public Garda performance was not suffering because of the myriad controversies and crises.

The Garda chief said the force had recently achieved a drop in property crime, organised crime and dissident republican activity while continuing to drive the biggest reforms in its history.

But she added cultural changes needed within the Garda would not happen overnight.

"It takes a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of resilience to challenge attitudes and behaviours that will change the culture of an organisation and renew us into a modern 21st century police service," she said.

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