Thursday, 1 May 1980
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. FitzGerald: and Mr. Harte asked the Minister for Justice in view of the urgent necessity to clarify the position in respect of allegations of political interference in the Garda Síochána, if he will make a statement on the allegations as reported and in particular on that by a member of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors that the interference went right to ministerial level.
Mr. G. Collins: There appears to have been a number of statements on this matter over a period of days last week but I do not know to what extent particular statements that were reported are to be taken as statements on behalf of the association. I have arranged to meet a deputation from the association early next month, which is the earliest time suitable to both sides, and I shall hear formally and in detail what they have to say and I shall consider it.
In the meantime, I cannot comment as I am not in possession of sufficient information as to what precisely is at issue. I have asked to meet them and we have agreed on a suitable date and the meeting is to take place, I think, on 5 or 6 June.
Dr. FitzGerald: Would the Minister comment on the last part of the question, the allegations that the interference went right to Ministerial level. From his own point of view the Minister might wish to comment on that.
Mr. G. Collins: If it is any consolation to the Deputy, I was assured by the president of the association and by the general secretary that no allegations whatever were being levelled against me. I am in a position to say that because I asked about it specifically. I wish to repeat to the Deputy that a number of statements were made on this matter in a number of newspapers and, in an effort to try to clarify the situation on Wednesday night of last week in Limerick, I asked for a meeting. I urged them to come to see me and, as I have said, my offer has been taken up and a date has been arranged.
Mr. G. Collins: In the interests of clarification, I asked the president of the association verbally if any allegations were being levelled against me and he said no. The general secretary of the organisation. Sergeant Derek Nally, also said that allegations were not being levelled against me.
Mr. G. Collins: I thank the Deputy in the interests of fair play. The Deputy will appreciate that over the last four or five days some of the newspaper headlines were damaging to my credibility as Minister for Justice and unfair to me because they were untrue.
Dr. FitzGerald: There is another matter I should like to raise by way of supplementary in relation to this. The Minister in his public statements on this matter has seemed to imply that the political allegations are confined to cases where gardaí made representations through public representatives or others on behalf of—whatever it might be, transfers or promotions—I do not know. He seemed to go out of his way to suggest that these were the only allegations  made. Is he aware that there is public concern on other aspects of alleged political interference involving suggestions that there may have been attempts to ensure that certain areas were not policed in the interests of particular parties or alternatively that cases were not proceeded with through pressure being put on the Garda Síochána. The Minister's own statements so far have not implied recognition that there is concern on these issues as well as on the particular question to which he addressed himself of representations made on behalf of individual gardaí or by them to or through public representatives.
Mr. G. Collins: Again in the interests of clarity, I should like to assure the House and the Deputy that I did not have a copy of the speech made by the president of the association at the opening of the conference that morning. I had only what other Members here had, what was said in the evening papers and what was said in those headlines. As I said in reply to the question, quite a number of statements were made. As regards the two that Deputy FitzGerald has now selected for supplementary question, the matter of the great concern that should and would be felt by any sector of the community at the lack of policing in any particular area, especially in regard to border areas—that is probably what the Deputy is referring to; am I right in that?
Mr. G. Collins: This was one of the statements made and this particular statements was flatly denied and proven incorrect by the Garda Commissioner at the dinner on Wednesday night of last week in my presence.
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