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Question

72. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the timeframe for the statutory inquiry relative to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17775/16]

73. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) will be consulted on the terms of reference of the proposed statutory inquiry in order to ensure that justice is seen to be done. [17780/16]

74. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the reasons given to her by her Department's review mechanism that caused her in May 2016 to establish the statutory inquiry into the long-standing complaint of a person (details supplied). [17781/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 to 74, inclusive, together.
The Deputy refers to a case which has been the subject of a review carried out under the Independent Review Mechanism set up by the Government to consider complaints of Garda misconduct received by the Taoiseach and myself.
The reports provided by counsel and containing their recommendations in each case constitute legal advice to me and they are, accordingly, subject to legal professional privilege. While the report and recommendations from counsel were not provided to complainants, I had sought to ensure that letters to complainants informing them of the outcome of the review of their particular complaints should set out the recommendation of counsel and also outline, as far as possible, the reasons for that recommendation. To that end I appointed a retired judge, Mr Justice Roderick Murphy, to advise on the preparation of the letters and independently vouch for the fact that the summaries of conclusions and the reasoning behind them are a fair reflection of counsel's advice.
In the case referred to in the Deputy's questions, counsel recommended a non-statutory inquiry. I accepted this recommendation and informed the complainant of my decision. Subsequently, in consultation with the Attorney General on this and the other cases where an inquiry was recommended, I decided that a statutory inquiry under section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act would be a more effective instrument for such an inquiry. This fact was communicated to the person concerned on 18 May, 2016.
The advantage of a statutory inquiry under section 42 is that it provides a legislative framework in terms of the powers available to the person appointed to carry out the inquiry. These include the power to inquire into any aspect of the administration, operation, practice, procedure or conduct of the Garda Síochána. Other powers granted to the inquiry include the power to compel any person in possession of information relevant to the inquiry to provide it; and the power to require the attendance of any person before the inquiry. These powers are supported by statutory recourse to the High Court in certain circumstances.
I am currently consulting with the Attorney General about the terms of reference for the inquiry and I will be in further contact with the person referred to in due course.