The Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, has today published the Annual Report of the Policing Authority for 2020. The report provides an account of the activities of the Authority in its fifth year of operation.
The Authority have played a key role in providing oversight of the substantial temporary powers given to An Garda Síochána over the course of the pandemic. In response to the grave public health risk caused by the COVID-19, new powers in support of the public health regulations were provided for members of An Garda Síochána under section 31A of the Health Act 1947. To provide additional public assurance on the appropriate and proportionate use of these powers, the Policing Authority, at the request of the Minister for Justice, assess and report regularly on the use of these new powers and enforcement of the regulations by An Garda Síochána.
Minister Humphreys said:
“The Policing Authority have played an essential oversight role over the past year in preparing regular reports monitoring the policing of the pandemic by members of An Garda Síochána. These reports have helped ensure the use of these temporary powers by Gardaí have been appropriate, as well as ensuring there has not been a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable communities amongst us.”
The report shows that while the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the Authority was far reaching, the Authority nonetheless addressed these challenges and continued with its important functions by also holding 21 meetings of the Authority, delivering on a comprehensive programme of engagement to inform policing oversight priorities and overseeing 63 senior Garda appointments.
The Minister added:
“I thank Bob Collins and all the members and staff of the Policing Authority for their continued work in helping to strengthen Ireland’s policing oversight and governance over the course of 2020. I would in particular like to extend my thanks and sincere good wishes to those members who left the Authority at the end of the year and who, along with three former members, were part of the foundation of the Authority’s oversight work.
“I would also like to welcome the four newest members of the Authority who were appointed earlier this year and I look forward to working with them over the coming period as we work to implement the changes to the policing oversight environment as recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.”
Notes for Editors:
The 2020 Annual Report of the Policing Authority will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, as required by the Garda Síochána Act 2005, and will be published on the website of the Policing Authority at http://www.policingauthority.ie
The Policing Authority is an independent statutory body established to oversee the performance of An Garda Síochána in relation to policing services, to promote public awareness of policing matters and to promote and support the continuous improvements in policing in Ireland.
The principal functions of the Policing Authority, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, are:
- To set priorities and performance targets for the Garda Síochána;
- To keep under review the performance by the Garda Síochána of its functions;
- To play a key role in the selection and appointment of senior personnel in the Garda Síochána, from Superintendent level to Garda Commissioner.
The Annual Report covers the Authority’s progress on the goals laid out in its Statement of Strategy 2019-2021, and meets the obligations of the Authority under the revised Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies. The Code also requires the Authority to send a separate comprehensive governance report to the Minister.