Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, welcomes publication of the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland



18 September 2018


The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., has warmly welcomed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland which was published today following its consideration by Government this morning.


The expert Commission, chaired by Kathleen O’Toole, was established by the Government in May 2017 to undertake a comprehensive examination of all aspects of policing and report by September 2018.  It was asked to examine all functions undertaken by An Garda Síochána and the bodies that have a role in providing oversight – including the Policing Authority, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, the Department of Justice and Equality, and Government.


Welcoming the report’s publication, the Minister said: “I’m very grateful to the chairperson Kathleen O’Toole for her expert leadership of the Commission and I very much appreciate the huge commitment and input of all the members.  It is clear from the Report that they applied their combined experience and expertise to developing a comprehensive framework for policing in Ireland.  They have consulted widely and listened carefully to the public, interested stakeholders and the staff of An Garda Síochána itself and the Report is all the richer for that listening and reflects the diversity of viewpoints that they heard.  I want to thank all those who took the time to contribute to the Commission’s deliberations.”


The Minister continued:The Commission has approached policing from a fresh perspective and has redefined policing as a multi-disciplinary, cross agency effort built on the foundation of protecting human rights. The Report seeks to identify how our arrangements can be strengthened to meet not only existing challenges but also to ensure that the approach is sufficiently agile to meet future challenges.  Of particular note is its emphasis on understanding policing as including not only the prevention or detection of crime, but also the prevention of harm and protection of vulnerable people, and the implications of this for the whole of Government.


“To be effective, policing relies on public trust.  An Garda Síochána has a long and positive engagement based on trust with the Irish people.  But society is evolving and our policing service must keep pace, not just in terms of people, technology and equipment, but more importantly in ensuring that the positive relationship with the public it serves is maintained and strengthened.  I very much welcome the strong emphasis placed in this report on human rights and the necessity to articulate that through a human rights strategy.


“The Report makes many innovative proposals including strengthening our national security arrangements; greater powers for the Garda Commissioner to ensure more effective management of the Garda organisation; and strengthening and supporting the internal governance of the Garda organisation through the introduction of a Board.   It also makes a number of recommendations on external oversight arrangements as well as on the Commissioner’s engagement with the Oireachtas.


“The programme of reform that the Commission has recommended is undoubtedly a challenging one, requiring actions across Government.  It will take time to implement and the Commission has suggested that the centenary of the establishment of An Garda Síochána in 2022 would be an appropriate target for the transformation to be completed. 

“This is a major report on one of the key functions of the State delivered after 15 months of consultation and consideration by the expert Commission.  I would commend anyone with an interest in policing in Ireland to read it and it will now receive detailed consideration by Government.  Clearly I and my officials will be discussing the implementation of the report with the Garda Commissioner and I have asked my officials to consult with other relevant Government Departments and with the various Agencies whose responsibilities are addressed in the Report.  Once that process is completed, I intend to seek the Government’s approval for a High-level Implementation Plan to take forward the Report.  In addition, I have requested my Department, in consultation with the Department of the Taoiseach, to move quickly to put arrangements in place for the establishment of the Implementation Group for Policing Reform and Implementation Programme Office as recommended by the Commission.”


The report and further information on the work of the Commission are available at


Notes to editors

The Commission was appointed by Government in May 2017.  Its terms of reference and membership are below.


Terms of Reference


An Garda Síochána, the national police service with responsibility for community safety, state security and immigration, plays a hugely important role in Irish society and has traditionally enjoyed the widespread support of the community it polices.  An Garda Síochána has, however, been the subject of significant public controversy over the past decade and continues to be so. Notwithstanding wide-ranging measures taken to address the causes of these controversies, including the establishment of a new oversight framework and the ongoing implementation of a reform programme within An Garda Síochána, concerns remain in relation to the accountability of An Garda Síochána, its leadership and management capacity and its culture and ethos. These concerns have the potential to undermine public confidence in policing and the legitimacy of An Garda Síochána.  Additionally, like all police services it faces internal and external challenges rooted in the changing context in which all police services operate in the 21st century.  These include increased expectations of transparency, accountability and professionalism, the changing nature of crime, the changing nature of society and the need for pro-active, routine and continuous engagement with local communities.


The people of Ireland are entitled to have a professional and effective police service that they can trust and have confidence in to act not only within the law, but to the ethical standards appropriate to a modern police service; whose leadership and management have the capacity to provide such a service, to meet emerging challenges and to oversee and realise the benefits of ongoing reform initiatives; and that is subject to robust external oversight. To ensure that policing in Ireland continues to meet these expectations and commands the support of the Irish people it is appropriate that a Commission should be appointed to carry out a fundamental review of the role, structures, leadership and management, ethos and culture of policing and existing oversight and consultative arrangements.  Such a fundamental review must encompass all functions carried out by An Garda Síochána (including community safety, state security and immigration) and the full range of bodies that have a role in providing oversight and accountability for their activities, including the Police Authority, the Garda Inspectorate, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, Joint Policing Committees, the Department of Justice and Equality and Government having regard to the need for democratic and political accountability.


The oversight, accountability and related functions of the relevant statutory bodies will continue to be discharged by them during the tenure of the Commission and will represent an essential input into its work. There is an ongoing programme of reform underway based on the Garda Inspectorate reports which are being progressed through the implementation of the Garda Commissioner’s Modernisation and Renewal Programme 2016-2021 and which is being overseen by the Policing Authority. The work of the Commission should not hinder these important developments and it will be open to the Commission, as it sees fit, to address such developments in their Report.


Taking this into account, the Commission will inquire into policing in Ireland and, on the basis of its findings, bring forward to the Government proposals for the future of policing.


Its proposals should address:






In carrying out its work, the Commission should have regard to:


The Commission should consult widely, including with the public and civic society and any other bodies or individuals it considers appropriate.

The Commission will report in September 2018

The Commission may bring forward immediate proposals and rolling recommendations for implementation, that it considers are required to be addressed in the short-term, and in advance of its final report.

The Commission should address in its report(s) the implementation of its recommendations and the mechanisms required to oversee implementation.


Membership of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland

Ms Kathleen O’Toole, Chairperson

Ms Kathleen O’Toole, international policing expert; former Chief of the Seattle Police Department 2014-2017. Chief Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate 2006 - 2012 prior to which she was the Commissioner of the Boston Police.

Ms Noeline Blackwell

Ms Noeline Blackwell is a human rights lawyer who is Chief Executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. She was formerly the Director General of the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC).

Dr Johnny Connolly

Irish Research Council Enterprise Scholar at the School of Law, University of Limerick; previously Visiting Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin and Research Officer at the Health Research Board; Board member of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

Dr Vicky Conway

Lecturer in law in the School of Law and Governance in DCU; previously held positions at the University of Kent, Queen's University Belfast, the University of Limerick and the University of Leeds. Member of the Policing Authority 2015 - 2017. Member of the board of the Association of Criminal Justice Research and Development and previously the board of the Committee on the Administration of Justice in Northern Ireland.

Mr Tim Dalton

Former Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality; Chair of the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains.

Sir Peter Fahy QPM., MA

Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Cheshire and former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police; Chair of the Plus Dane Housing Association and a trustee of the Catholic Diocese of Salford along with a number of other trustee positions.  Honorary Professor, University of Manchester.

Dr Eddie Molloy


Independent Management Consultant, Director Advanced Organisation, specialising in strategy, large-scale organisation change and innovation.

Ms Tonita Murray

International police development consultant with over 40 years as a civilian in government ministries directing the police and in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Former Director General of the Canadian Police College.

Dr Antonio Oftelie


Executive Director, Leadership for a Networked World and Fellow, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University; faculty lead for the Public Safety, Health and Human Services, Chief Financial Officer, Next Generation Operations, and Public Sector for the Future summits.

Professor Donncha O’Connell

Established Professor of Law at the School of Law, NUI Galway, former Head of School; Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission and former board member of the Legal Aid Board.

Ms Helen Ryan

Chief Executive Officer of Creganna-Tactx Medical from 2005 – 2013, formerly worked with Medtronic and Tyco Healthcare (Covidien) in Product Development and R&D functional management roles; Fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland and a member of the Boards of Enterprise Ireland and of the Galway University Foundation.


*NOTE: Mr. Conor Brady resigned his membership of the Commission in September 2017.