Gardaí forced to google new laws

Minister Charlie Flanagan, sitting alongside Cormac Moylan, president, AGSI, addresses the delegates at their annual conference at the Slieve Russell Hotel, Cavan yesterday afternoon. Pictures: Lorraine Teevan

Middle-ranking gardaí claim they have to resort to googling information about new laws they have to enforce because of a lack of training.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said members are also using Citizens Information centres to help educate themselves.

Speaking at their annual conference in Cavan, AGSI president Cormac Moylan said members were not prepared for important laws introduced this year, such as the Domestic Violence Act and the Road Traffic Amendment Act (also known as the Clancy law).

The former piece of legislation introduces a range of provisions including a new offence of coercive control, while the latter act penalises car owners who knowingly allow their vehicles to be used by unaccompanied learner drivers.

That act is named after mother and daughter Geraldine and Louise Clancy who lost their lives in December 2015 when unaccompanied driver Susan Gleeson lost control of her car in Co Cork.

Opening their three-day conference, Mr Moylan said the lack of training in new legislation was causing gardaí to search the internet and check with Citizens Information.

“A lot of serious and pressing issues here [at the conference],” he said. “I have 140 delegates coming down from the 32 AGSI branches and they have serious concerns that have developed over the last 12 months.

“This is their forum, to get their issues out, issues in relation to training, the new domestic violence legislation, the new road traffic act with the Clancy law, we are still waiting for training in regard to that. Some of us are not going to get training in that until next November. We are accessing Google and citizen information services to upskill ourselves, that is what we do.”

Mr Moylan criticised the change process inside the job, claiming that gardaí were being overlooked.

Delegates at the annual AGSI conference at the Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell, listen as Minister Charlie Flanagan addresses them.

He explained: “We have been left in situations without any real time capacity to change. With investment and IT — I am going out to do multi-agency checkpoints and there are state agencies and they have the best of technology and equipment; we are more or less going back to the desk with the ink and quill.”

He said they wanted a firm commitment on IT training from the minister.

“In 2012, I was told that there is this new resource model would be rolled out in six months,” Mr Moylan said.

“We are now in 2019 and it is on pilot in one division. That’s not acceptable. In all modern organisations they invest in IT but we are 10 years behind.”

Responding to the concerns, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “I believe that the matter of ongoing training, whether it is continuous professional training or new training for An Garda Síochána is essential. I accept that the speed of how new legislation is enacted does create new obligations and practices for An Garda Síochána. I am satisfied, however, that the Garda service is up to ensuring that there is a proper level of training.”

The minister said that promotions were also being progressed in the organisation, with almost 450 sergeants and inspectors being promoted and allocated to frontline policing duties since October 2018.

“This includes the increase of 110 Sergeants and 81 Inspectors provided for in Budget 2019,” he said. “In addition, I understand preparations are underway for a new sergeant competition towards the end of this year.”

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