Publication of the Overview Report prepared by the Panel of the Independent Review Mechanism

19th July 2016

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality has today published the Overview Report prepared by the Panel of the Independent Review Mechanism. Below is an explanatory note and summary of the process.

 

On 13 May, 2014 the Government decided that the Minister for Justice and Equality, in consultation with the Attorney General, should establish an Independent Review Mechanism to consider allegations of Garda misconduct or inadequacies in the investigation of such allegations, with a view to determining to what extent and in what manner further action may be required in each case. This was one of the actions agreed by Government as a response to the Guerin Report.

 

A panel consisting of two Senior and five Junior Counsel, all selected on the basis of their experience of the criminal justice system, was established for the purpose.

 

The Panel was independent and therefore no restriction was placed on the nature of recommendations which they might make. Its purpose was to examine the allegations to see whether further action was needed and what that action would be.

 

Counsel carried out the review by examining the papers submitted by complainants. In each case counsel provided an overview, or comprehensive summary, of the facts alleged in the complaint, set out any previous action that the complainant indicated had been taken (e.g. whether the matter had previously been the subject of a complaint to GSOC), outlined the issues which fell within the remit of the IRM and made recommendations to the Tánaiste as to whether any further action was feasible and, if so, what options for further action were open to the Tánaiste

 

The range of matters covered by the complaints referred to the Panel was very wide. In addition to complaints against members of An Garda Síochána they included property disputes, probate issues, disputes between neighbours, dissatisfaction with the outcome of civil and criminal court actions as well as decisions of the DPP and GSOC. Nevertheless, they were considered by the Panel.

 

To protect the integrity of the process arrangements were put in place to ensure that if there was any conflict, or potential conflict, the conflicted counsel would not be involved in the particular complaint, and would not be aware of which counsel on the Panel reviewed it.

 

Recommendations were returned in all of the 320 complaints referred to the Panel. To ensure that the independence of the process was preserved, the Tánaiste appointed a retired High Court Judge Mr. Justice Roderick Murphy, to oversee the preparation of summaries and recommendations in the notification letters of the outcome of the process. His role was to independently vouch for the fact that the summaries of conclusions and the reasoning behind them were a fair reflection of the advice which has been made available to the Department by the Panel.

The outcome of the 320 complaints referred to the Panel was as follows:-

 

 

Number of ‘No further action’ cases

249

Number of cases where Informal Action was recommended

29

Number of cases where a report under Section 41 (2) of the Garda Siochana Act 2005 was recommended

14

Number of cases where a referral to GSOC under Section 102(5) of the Garda Siochana Act 2005 was recommended

21

Number of cases where an Inquiry was recommended

5

Number of cases where a general review of Garda practices/procedures under Garda Síochána Act was recommended

1

Number of cases where the appointment of a Legal assessor was recommended

1

 

 

 

Reasons stated for no further action include cases where the complaints fell outside the remit of the review (for example because they concerned civil claims, Coroner's decisions), ongoing matters, such as court actions or GSOC investigations and the necessity to respect principles of due process.

 

Informal actions include requesting the Garda Commissioner to appoint a member to liaise with the complainant or to provide some particular information to the person.

 

 

Reasons stated for no further action

Number

Independence of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission/Garda Síochána Complaints Board

138

Court Ruling

85

Ongoing Court Proceedings

36

Independence of the DPP

35

Garda Operational Matters

79

Outside the Remit of the IRM (Civil Matters, Health related issues, Complaints concerning the Legal Profession)

82

Passage of Time

43

Lack of Evidence

59

Ongoing Attempt to Resolve

15

Other

10

 

 

The Department of Justice and Equality has been following through on the recommended actions, both formal and informal, since the notification letters issued to complainants. In the case of the inquiries recommended, the Department is discussing with the Office of the Attorney General the terms of reference and the identity of suitable persons to carry them out, in consultation with the Policing Authority.

 

The overview report also contains a number of recommendations aimed at preventing these types of complaints arising in the future. These will be considered by the Department of Justice and Equality now that the IRM process has been completed.

The full Overview Report is attached hereunder

 

IRM Overview Report (PDF - 154KB)