Responding to change?
: a cultural analysis of Garda perceptions of police reform agendas within the Republic of Ireland

  • Donal P. Corcoran

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In October 2008, Mr Justice Morris published the final of his eight reports concerned with police corruption in An Garda Síochána, the national police service of the Republic of Ireland. This thesis draws upon research conducted with Irish police officers to offer an operational-level cultural analysis of their perceptions of the post-scandal reform agendas introduced. It begins with an overview of the misconduct that happened in one Irish policing division and its related wider application. The focus then turns to the nature and detail of the reforms initiated to bring about change. It proposes a theoretical framework adapted from Lonergan’s (1972) cognitional process and a Kohlbergian (1978) model of moral reasoning to gauge individual officer integrity. Then, a critical evaluation of the literature concerning the resistance ‘conventional’ police cultures may present, is discussed. Next, the narrative vignettes of our research participants, which were obtained from the thirty-eight interviews conducted are exhibited. The findings and analysis of this research confirm that the necessity for the Morris Tribunal has been broadly accepted by interviewees. Further, it delivers a review of those reforms that have had the greatest impact on the perceptions of operational police officers and those that may have made less of an impression. It conveys an interpretive appraisal of the key features of An Garda Síochána’s ‘new’ operational-level organisational culture, as they may be, which conveys a shared outlook that views formal rules as self-serving legitimate normative orders designed to guide professional conduct. Garda culture may be currently demarcated by its appreciation of the need for, deliberative trust based initiatives primarily focused on peace keeping and crime prevention goals. There may also be cultural acceptance of pluralistic relations which seek to progressively develop mutual respect between parties and develop partnership. Irish police officers appear to understand the importance of social justice through inclusion and the need to protect against human rights violations. Conventional police solidarity has perhaps been affected by external oversight mechanisms. Finally, an assessment of what may have worked best to achieve this change is presented.
Date of AwardFeb 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorSarah Charman (Supervisor) & Steve Savage (Supervisor)

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