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Review panel will 'shine a light' on work of the Garda

A dozen policing, justice, law and management experts are to sit on the Patten-style review of the Garda over the next 15 months.

The commission, headed by Seattle police chief and former head of the Garda Inspectorate Kathleen O'Toole, has also been given the power to order changes to practices in the force at any stage before it finishes its work.

The panel includes Sir Peter Fahy, a former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police and Cheshire Police, Conor Brady, former member of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission and editor of The Irish Times and Tonita Murray who has 40 years experience in police reform including during her time as a civilian in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Others are Noeline Blackwell, a human rights lawyer and chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Dr Antonio Oftelie from Harvard University, Tim Dalton, retired secretary general in the Department of Justice and Equality and management consultant Eddie Molloy.

A number of academics were also selected including Donncha O'Connell, Professor of Law at NUI Galway, Johnny Connolly from the School of Law in the University of Limerick and Dr Vicky Conway from the School of Law and Governance in Dublin City University.

The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is being set up after a catalogue of controversies dogged the reputation of the force and its senior management amid suggestions a Patten-style review was needed.

It will report back by September 2018 but can make recommendations while the review is ongoing.

Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: "Issues which have arisen, many historic, some contemporary, mean the time is right for a fundamental examination of all aspects of policing in this state.

"This is an opportunity to stand back and examine how we are to be policed as we approach the centenary of the establishment of An Garda Siochana.

"At the same time the crucial work of day-to-day policing and oversight continues."

The Tanaiste added: "I am determined to continue shining a light to uncover bad practices and issues that must be resolved."

Chairman of the review Ms O'Toole said: "I am fully aware of the very serious controversies that have surfaced, and look forward to leading the most ambitious review of policing in Ireland since the foundation of the State.

"It will provide an opportunity to address major systemic weaknesses in An Garda Siochana, to identify best practices, and ultimately to recommend to Government a model fit for 21st century Irish policing."

Ms O'Toole vowed to consult the public and all ranks of the force.

Antoinette Cunningham, president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, questioned why no serving or retired gardai had been picked to work on the review.

"Our association welcomes the commission and are heartened to see the level of collective national and international expertise among the 12 members, however we question the exclusion of a current or a former member of An Garda Siochana," she said.

Ms Cunningham said her association wants to see "real reform".

She added: "When the media activity dies down and the real work begins, we need to see the same level of enthusiasm from Government to support the Commission in their work.

"We are particularly anxious to see progress on supervision and technology as both of these pillars are vital for effective policing."

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