Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has described as “outrageous” a directive from the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan to gardaí that they should not attempt to use influence concerning closures or perceived closures of stations.
The circular forbade gardaí from communicating (directly or through someone else) with any public representative in order to lobby or influence the decision of the commissioner.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn was speaking in support of a High Court challenge to the directive by the Garda Representative Association (GRA)
The Donegal North East Deputy said:
“This directive is outrageous. It is an attempt to silence rank and file gardaí from giving their testimonies on the impact of government cutbacks. In a democracy, it is the role of the opposition to hold the government to account and this attempt by the Garda Commissioner to deny us the ability to communicate with front line gardaí about cutbacks is an affront to democracy.
“Across the public service, there are on-going attempts to silence dissenting voices. The government and those who do their bidding would prefer if the stories from gardaí, nurses, teachers, council staff and so many more were not told. They would like to present their failed austerity strategy as ‘smart policing’ or ‘doing more with less’ or ‘efficiency savings’. This spin control will ultimately fail.
“I commend the Garda Representative Association for their stand against this outrage. They have refused to be silenced and have repeatedly presented the facts about the impact of garda cutbacks on the morale of their members and the ability of their members to do their job and effectively protect our communities and combat crime.
“I am now calling on the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter to make his position clear on this directive and if he believes that the Garda Commissioner should serve the Minister’s interests or the peoples.”