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Press Release 07-12-2016

New Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission ready to take on a new decade:
Appointment of Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring, Dr Kieran FitzGerald and Mr Mark Toland recommended by the Oireachtas

The term of the current Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission expires this month and a new Commission has been nominated to government. It is expected that the three Commission members will be officially appointed by the President shortly.

Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring of the High Court, who has already been at the helm of the organisation for over a year, was nominated by government for re-appointment as Chairperson for a new term. There was an open competition process, managed by the Public Appointments Service, to fill the remaining to two positions on the Ombudsman Commission. Following this process, the three new members were nominated to the Houses of the Oireachtas today.

Dr Kieran FitzGerald, to be reappointed for a second term, and Mr Mark Toland, to join from the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, will join Justice Ring to form the tri-part Ombudsman Commission. Dr FitzGerald has been instrumental in the establishment and development of GSOC throughout its first decade, serving firstly as Head of Communications and, since 2011, as Commissioner. Mr Toland will bring to GSOC four years of experience in the area of police oversight, from his role as Deputy Chief Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate, as well as a wealth of policing experience, from a distinguished 30 year career with the Metropolitan Police Service in the UK.

Chairperson Justice Ring congratulated the new Commissioners on their nominations. She said:

“2017 will be the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. I believe that the existence and successful operation of an independent police ombudsman is a very important component of Ireland’s justice system and that’s why I have accepted the challenge of continuing in my role as Chairperson of GSOC.”

“A lot has been achieved by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in its first decade, but there remains more to do. The oversight system, and the policing system itself, can only benefit from continuous improvement, as a result of learning that has been made over the last number of years. I am very much looking forward to working with Kieran and Mark to drive forward this continuous improvement - building on the work that has been done to date and continuing to advance police oversight in Ireland.

She added: “I would like take the opportunity to thank outgoing Commissioner, Carmel Foley, for her dedicated service to GSOC over the last ten years and wish her well into the future.”

Over the last nine years, GSOC has:

  • Advised over 40,000 people.
  • Independently processed over 20,000 complaints.
  • Investigated or informally dealt with over 6000 of those cases itself.
  • In relation to disciplinary investigations which are conducted by the Garda Síochána, GSOC has provided a new and important level of oversight. GSOC’s investigators have conducted reviews of disciplinary investigations undertaken by Garda officers, supervised disciplinary investigations when they deemed it to be in the public interest and even investigated significant disciplinary matters themselves.
  • In addition to dealing with complaints, GSOC investigators have conducted approximately 1000 independent investigations following referrals from the Garda Commissioner, or in the public interest.
  • The Ombudsman Commission has sent over 220 files to the DPP and has worked closely with the DPP’s office to prosecute cases where appropriate, ensuring that people living in Ireland can have confidence that gardaí are subject to the law in the same way as any other citizen.

The new Ombudsman Commission will work on a Strategy to guide the work of the organisation and set out priorities for the next five years. This will be published in 2017.

ENDS

Lorna Lee
Head of Communications
Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

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