) irishtimes.com - Garda group defends role in alleged double-jobbing row - Mon Apr 15 01:00:48 IST 2019

Garda group defends role in alleged double-jobbing row

Last Updated: Monday, April 15, 2019, 11:36

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) has defended its handling of a controversy involving an allegation of double-jobbing by one of its members, saying it had taken legal advice on the matter and acted on that advice.

Late last week it emerged a protected disclosure had been made within the Garda involving security consultant work an Agsi member is alleged to have underaken for Coolmore Stud in Tipperary in his spare time.

The Garda inspector against whom allegations were made has filled a senior role in Agsi, which is due to begin its three-day annual delegate conference in Co Cavan on Monday.

The alleged consultancy work is said to have taken place two years ago and the matter has now resulted in internal strife within the association.

At least two senior Agsi members have indicated they are not attending the annual conference and a third was also considering not attending.

Agsi general secretary John Jacob said the two members who had declined to attend the annual conference “haven’t indicated specifically why they are not coming.”

Mr Jacob said Agsi did not know the details of the allegations, adding: “What we have to remember is that the person who is being allegedly investigated is entitled to anonymity. It is only fair that due process is allowed to take its place.

“It will be up to the persons themselves to if they want to come forward,” Mr Jacob told RTÉ Radio.

“If they are involved in extra curricular work it is up to the Garda organisation to investigate that and report on it.”

Earlier, Agsi president Cormac Moylan said it would “genuinely be a concern” if members stayed away but “I can’t discuss individual members or their positions.”

Ahead of that conference and in reply to queries, Agsi released a statement on Sunday night saying no findings had been made against the member in question.

“When Agsi was made aware of an allegation against a member of the association which related to their employment as a member of An Garda Síochána , we sought legal advice,” noted the statement.

“That advice was that the person making the allegation should report it to An Garda Síochána. Agsi acted on this legal advice and it is our understanding that the allegations were subsequently reported by way of protective disclosure and are now under investigation.

“For completeness, we wish to add that it is our understanding, the member concerned has not been formally notified of any allegation or any investigation.

“It is important that due process take its course, and Agsi will not be commenting further at this point.”

Protected disclosure

Garda members are prohibited from taking on any work outside their duties that requires the holding of a licence, which includes security work. However, some employment that would generally be regarded as being within the security sector does not come under the remit of the Private Security Authority and therefore does not require a licence.

The allegations that Agsi said had been made in a protected disclosure are now under investigation. However, the inquiry is at an early stage and the allegations are unproven at present.

The controversy and split within the organisation is likely to be raised over the next three days as delegates meet to discuss a range of issues affecting the Garda’s middle-management ranks and policing issues generally.

Meanwhile, some Agsi members believe the process of hiring civilian staff into the force should be halted until a skills audit is done to assess the true manpower needs of the organisation.

The issue is being raised by Agsi members from the Garda’s Donegal division and is set for discussion at the association’s annual delegate conference.

However, the call for civilianisation to be temporarily put on hold appears to be at odds with findings of the Policing Authority published last week by the Department of Justice.

In its latest report appraising the modernisation and renewal process in the Garda the authority said a lack of skills and planning in areas such as human resources and ICT was militating against efforts to reform. It has long advocated for such skills to be brought into the Garda via civilisation.