Trust and accountability in Ireland: The case of An Garda Síochána

  • Manning P
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Abstract

Fieldwork and interviews gathered over more than two years with members of the Garda, the Garda Inspectorate, and scholars of policing in Ireland, are used to assess the nature of accountability of the An Garda Síochána. Beginning with an overview of police accountability, the paper advances a perspective integrating the historical, emotional and symbolic aspects of police legitimacy and the extant mandate. While the Garda are well respected by the public, they demonstrate the power of politics, sentiments, emotions and memory in shaping this level of police trust and accountability. This is suggested by an analysis of the origins of the An Garda Síochána, their current status, their on-going dilemmas and their current resilience. It is argued that the Garda are sacred and viewed as legitimate as a result of their connections to the origin of the state. This fact insulates them from swings in public opinion even in the face of scandal. Their obligations to central government and a tight connection to national security insulate them from direct accountability to the public. As a result, efforts to produce accountability via case law, complaints systems and external assessments have had thus far only modest impact on the structure and function of the Garda. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Author-supplied keywords

  • An Garda Síochána
  • Irish policing
  • democratic policing
  • police accountability
  • police mandate

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Authors

  • Peter K. Manning

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