7. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the implementation of the report from the Commission on the Future of Policing. [42375/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Commission on the Future of Policing published its report on 18 September and set out a wide range of principles and innovative proposals aimed at empowering the Garda Commissioner to ensure more effective management of the Garda organisation; strengthening our national security arrangements; supporting the governance of the Garda organisation through the introduction of a Board and reforming the method of recruitment and training of Gardaí. It also makes a number of recommendations on external oversight arrangements as well as on the Commissioner’s engagement with the Oireachtas.
This is a major report on one of the key functions of the State and it is now receiving appropriate consideration. My Department is engaged in a detailed consultation process with the new Commissioner and other agencies as well as with the other Government departments impacted by the report's recommendations. As part of this process, I have asked the Garda Commissioner to respond to the recommendations in the report insofar as they directly concern An Garda Síochána. I have requested that this response will include an implementation plan of how he intends to take matters forward.
I have also written to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality and I look forward to hearing their direct response to the Report in the coming weeks. I also understand that Kathleen O'Toole, the Chair of the Commission, has been invited to address the Committee next month. I am very grateful to Ms. O'Toole and the other members of the Commission for their comprehensive report and I believe this will be a very useful engagement which will allow members to hear directly from the Commission as to how it approached its task and reached its detailed findings.
Once these engagements are completed, I will bring a High-level Implementation Plan and proposed project structure to Government for approval before the end of the year. This Implementation Plan will also take careful account of the conclusions of the third interim report of the Disclosures Tribunal.
My Department, in consultation with the Department of the Taoiseach, is moving quickly to establish the Implementation Group for Policing Reform and Implementation Programme Office as recommended by the Commission. These matters are being advanced at Secretary General level and I expect these structures to be in place in the near future including the appointment of an Independent Chair to lead the Implementation Group. Given the whole-of-Government reach of the report which envisages a new holistic approach to policing and public safety, this Implementation Group and Programme Office will be based in the Department of the Taoiseach.
Funding has already been provided to support the transformation envisaged by the Report. In 2019 the Garda Vote will increase by €110 million to €1.76 billion. This money will support ongoing recruitment and further civilianisation to fill critical skills gaps and enable the redeployment of Gardaí to front line policing which are identified as priorities. The need for digital innovation and information is also strongly highlighted by the Commission and I am pleased that funding of approx €65 million for ICT has been provided in 2019. In addition funding of €10 million is provided in 2019 for the Justice and Policing and Transformation Programmes and further funding will of course be provided to support this far-reaching transformation project in future years.
While the programme of reform that the Commission outlined is undoubtedly an opportunity for transformational change, it is also extremely challenging, requiring actions across Government. It is prudent that we take some time now to ensure that the necessary structures and resources are in place to deliver this needed reform. It will take time to fully implement the recommendations in the report and the Commission has suggested that the centenary of the establishment of An Garda Síochána in 2022 would be an appropriate target for the transformation to be completed. Questions Nos. 8 to 10, inclusive, answered orally.