The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has four serving superintendents seconded to its office, which has prompted the two main justice opposition TDs to question its independence and request an immediate explanation.
There are four superintendents seconded to GSOC under the terms of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. Despite this, members of the public, Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan and Labour's Pat Rabbitte were unaware until recently that serving gardaí were involved in leading investigations into alleged misconduct of their colleagues.
One person who made a recent complaint to GSOC was surprised to be informed in correspondence from the ombudsman's office, seen by the Sunday Tribune, that the representative from GSOC to oversee a discipline complaint against two gardaí was a serving superintendent.
Charlie Flanagan last week wrote to GSOC commissioner Conor Brady asking for clarification of the role of the superintendents at the commission. Pat Rabbitte has also posed a parliamentary question for the justice minister enquiring about the matter that will be submitted when the Dáil resumes.
"The basis of the ombudsman commission is that it was totally independent. I would hope it's not compromised by virtue of garda involvement. I have not seen any evidence to suggest that it is. But there is now a perception that their independence has been questioned because of this," said Flanagan.
Pat Rabbitte said the ombudsman's office was funded by the public purse and the general public had a right to know how its investigations were being conducted.