Action Party Leader Suzanne Smith
The newly formed Action Party continues to lead in the recent Red C poll in the Sunday Business Post. Excluding don’t knows, the poll puts the AP on 38%, FF on 24%, FG on 18%, Labour on 6%, Sinn Fein on 13% and others on 1%. Sources in the FG/Labour coalition said that “the only poll the government is interested in will be on polling day.”
Political pundits have called the continued strong performance of the Action Party extraordinary, considering that it is only a year old and has no TDs or senators. Suzanne Smith, the well-known businesswoman and party leader, continues to lead in the polls as preferred choice for Taoiseach. Tom Haskey of the Irish Times: “What’s interesting is the level of enthusiasm for the party. People either love it or hate it, and let’s be honest, the National Guard is the source of much of that strong feeling.”
NPSI officers on patrol in Galway yesterday.
I posted this four years ago:
Galway 2020: Garda unions have lodged a formal protest with the Mayor of Galway following the decision of the City Council to outsource public order duties to National Police Service of Ireland Ltd. Under the decision of the council, the Garda Siochana will no longer be responsible for non-national security policy in the boundaries of Galway city. This has followed a three-year trial period where the NPSI policed the city alongside the Gardai, as they were entitled to do under the 2014 Private Security Act.
Addressing a press conference, the mayor stoutly defended his policy: “The reality is that, after three years patrolling public areas, dealing with tourist crime, public order and safety issues, our polling has shown that the people of Galway overwhelmingly preferred dealing with the NPSI over the Gardai. They found them more responsive, more courteous, more professional, and the fact is, they are better at solving crimes than the Gardai.” The Garda unions complained that NPSI have more resources than the Gardai, a claim disputed by the mayor. “Since the government devolved policing budgets to the county councils, we found that the cost of putting a single Garda on patrol, when you weigh in salary costs, pension and early retirement, is the same as two and a half PSNI officers. NPSI officers tend to be younger, fitter, better trained and have more modern equipment than the Gardai, because their budget is not overwhelmingly spent on pay. Galway just cannot afford the Gardai anymore.”
The Director of Public Prosecutions was criticised by Garda unions earlier in the year when an email from within her office admitted that NPSI’s in-house unit of barristers supervising investigations had meant that NPSI files tended to be far better prepared and generally stronger cases than those submitted by Gardai. Garda unions demanded more resources. The email stated: “It should be noted that NPSI cases tend to be founded on presentation of forensic evidence, CCTV footage and corroborative statements to a much greater degree than Garda files, which rely overwhelmingly on confessions by an alleged guilty individual. There are also far more cases submitted, per head of population, by the NPSI than by the Gardai. It would seem that the NPSI seem to “see” more crimes committed than the Gardai. Having said that, the Gardai continue to lead the NPSI on road traffic violation charges, particularly during good weather.”
The decision follows six years of legal battles, where Garda unions attempted to force the DPP not to accept files prepared by the NPSI, claiming that as a private organisation it could be corrupted. Previously, the court had ruled that the DPP had to consider properly prepared documents indicating that a crime had been committed, regardless of their source. The case memorably collapsed in the High Court last year when former FBI agents, brought in as consultants by NPSI, conclusively proved that not only were investigation standards in the NPSI higher than the Gardai, but that anti-corruption measures within the NPSI were far stronger than in the Gardai. A further embarrassment was caused when the Garda Ombudsman, charged with regulating the NPSI, admitted that the NPSI cooperated with her office to a far greater degree than the Garda authorities did. Garda unions demanded more resources.