MAYO has the highest incidence of complaints against gardaí in the country. Since May of last year, between 101 and 125 complaints originated in the Mayo Division. This compares with a maximum of just 25 in the Sligo/Leitrim and Roscommon/Galway East areas.
The county now ranks on a par with Dublin and Louth/Meath as the areas of highest complaints, however just 1-10 of these have resulted in referrals.
The data was issued last week when the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) released its second annual report.
Chairperson Mr Justice Kevin Haugh and Commissioner Carmel Foley confirmed that the ongoing unrest at the gas terminal in Bellanaboy resulted in the majority of complaints in Mayo.
Chief Superintendent Tony McNamara assured The Mayo News that the statistics have no reflection on the efficiency of the Gardaí in the county and attributed the high level of complaints to the gas protests.
Referring to the statistics as ‘remarkable’, he said: “The crime figures came out recently and ranked Mayo as having the lowest level of crime in the country. When you see both sets of figures now standing side by side, something does not stack up. I would say the vast majority of complaints certainly came from policing the Corrib gas project.
“A lot of these issues have now been dealt with and, as far as I am aware, not one member of the Gardaí was found in breach of the act.”
The Chief Superintendent cited one particular incident of June 11, 2007. “On that date there were 55 gardaí in Pullathomas and there was a complaint made against every one of them by 13 different people. Anyone can see what is going on there. This has nothing to do with the calibre of the Gardaí or the people of Mayo,” he said.
But the Chief Superintendent agreed the commission has an important job to do and every case must be followed up.
“Anyone is entitled to make a complaint if they feel they have a genuine grievance,” he said.
Garda Ombudsman Spokesperson Graham Doyle said no statistical breakdown is currently available, but was he not in any doubt that the high complaint figures are most certainly down to the clashes between protesters and gardaí at the gas terminal last year which prompted scores of formal complaints to the GSOC.
Mr Doyle said that a breakdown of figures was not available due to a change in system but from 2009 it is hoped that much more detailed information be released.
Nationally, the office has received 3,000 complaints since it became operational last year.
84% of complaints were issued against male gardaí. On 31/12/2007, males made up 80 per cent of the force
47% of complainants referred to their issue as abuse of authority
17% representation of non-Irish nationalities. This is higher than the census estimate of the representation in the resident population at any one time.
85% complainants were of Irish nationality
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