Justice Minister telling mistruths on policing

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
06 December 2023

Labour justice spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said there are now serious concerns over the Justice Minister and Fine Gael’s bona fides in tackling policing issues.

Responses to parliamentary questions put down by the Labour Party indicated that the Minister had no remit to fast track new recruits of trainee Garda in Templemore, yet a Fine Gael branded social media post claimed that this measure was done at the behest of the Minister.

This follows a range of confusion and errors from the Justice Minister and the Taoiseach following the riots in Dublin city, where statements made by the Minister have been directly contradicted by the Policing Authority and by the social media platform X.

In response to Leaders’ Questions to Labour leader Ivana Bacik, the Taoiseach insisted that there are 700-800 new recruits this year. However, Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed to Alan Kelly in the Justice Committee that only 637 have been recruited in the year to date.

This, coupled with the move to bring forward the training to the last week of December is absolute evidence of Fine Gael tampering with the numbers in an attempt to inflate Garda figures for year end.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“It is unbelievable that the Minister does or does not know what she has responsibility for within her Department.

“In response to any question put to her regarding operational issues, recruitment, retention, or overtime, the Minister says it has nothing to do with her, including in relation to fast tracking new recruits to Templemore in December.

“Yet, this is in direct contradiction to the announcement made by Fine Gael stating that Minister McEntee fast tracked more recruits to get more Gardaí before Christmas.

“There is something totally array with the manner in which the past number of weeks has unfolded. Both the Policing Authority and the social media platform X have come out this week to contradict assertions made by the Minister.

“Chairperson of the Policing Authority Bob Collins contradicted the Justice Minister when he said the authority had not been asked to provide clarity on the use of force, despite Minister McEntee saying earlier last week she would do so.

“There is an attempt by Fine Gael to obfuscate reality. We need to separate fact from fiction.

“There are also serious questions to be answered by this Government as to why the Taoiseach and the Justice Minister allowed the figure of 700-800 new Garda recruits to be put on the record of the Dáil, when they clearly knew these figures were not accurate.

“Garda Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed 633 people have entered Templemore in the year to date to Alan Kelly.

“Now we see an attempt to inflate the figures and pull the wool over people’s eyes.

“People are deeply concerned about the failure to provide visible policing in communities nationwide. This attempt to mislead the public on the actual figures relating to Gardaí, and who has the powers to do what is deeply concerning.

“It is a breach of trust with the public. We need answers from this Minister now.”

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