New Authority will:
· provide additional layer of public oversight to policing
· provide a new engine to drive reforms of policing system
· hold Garda management to account including via public meetings
· develop a key role in the future appointment of senior Garda management

Friday 7th November

Frances Fitzgerald T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality, today published the General Scheme of the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill 2014 which provides for the establishment of the new independent Policing Authority. The Heads of Bill were this week approved by Government. The Bill has 80 sections and is a major milestone in the establishment of an independent Policing Authority.

Minister Fitzgerald said: “This is the most far reaching reform of An Garda Síochána since the foundation of the State and is a major element of the comprehensive programme of justice reform which is being delivered by the Government.”

“In this context, the new independent Policing Authority will bring a further layer of public accountability to the administration of policing services, while it will also provide a new engine to drive reforms of the policing system and practices to ensure that An Garda Síochána is fit to meet the ongoing and emerging challenges of 21st century policing.”

“In particular, the new Authority will be tasked with holding the Garda Commissioner to account in relation to all policing services while developing a key role in the future appointment of senior Garda management.”

As national security is a vital function of Government, it is proposed that under the new oversight arrangements the Garda Commissioner will report to the Policing Authority in respect of policing matters and to the Minister for Justice in relation to security matters.

Other key elements of the Bill include:
· The Authority will comprise a chairperson and other 8 ordinary members. These ordinary members will be appointed by the Government following the holding of a selection competition run by the Public Appointments Service (PAS). A resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas agreeing to the appointments is required;
· The Authority will approve a three year Strategy Statement and Annual Policing Plan submitted by the Commissioner;
· The Authority will establish and publish, within 12 months, a code of ethics that includes standards of conduct and practice for members of the Garda Síochána;
· The Authority will hold at least quarterly meetings in public.

The draft Heads also enable the Authority to:
· Request GSOC to investigate any policing matter that gives rise to a concern that a member of the Garda Síochána may have committed an offence, or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings;
· Request GSOC, subject to the consent of the Minister, investigate any behaviour of the Garda Commissioner in the context of his or her functions relating to policing matters;
· Request GSOC to examine practices or procedures of the Garda Síochána in relation to policing matters;
· Request An Garda Síochána Inspectorate to initiate an inspection or inquiry in relation to aspects of the operation and administration of the Garda Síochána pertaining to policing matters.

The Authority will be accountable to the Public Accounts Committee and to other Committees of the Oireachtas.

The draft legislation has been developed taking into account the outcome of the public consultation process undertaken in May 2014, the stakeholder consultation seminar hosted by the Minister in Farmleigh in June 2014, and the recommendations of the recent report of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.

Minister Fitzgerald added: “I intend to bring proposals to Government shortly in relation to the nomination of a chairperson-designate for the Authority. This will enable the nominated person to be involved in the appointment of the next Garda Commissioner and the preparations to be made for the establishment of the Policing Authority.”

The Heads of Bill will now go to the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality for scrutiny in parallel with drafting of the full Bill by the Office of the Attorney General. Minister Fitzgerald hopes to bring the Bill before the Oireachtas as soon as practicable.

The General Scheme is being published today on the website of the Department of Justice and Equality and is available at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB14000310

Ends…/


Notes for Editors
In March 2014, the Government announced that, among other reforms, an independent Garda Authority would be established which is appropriate to Ireland’s needs and which will maintain appropriate democratic accountability to the Oireachtas. In addition, in the recently published Statement of Government Priorities 2014-2016, the Government has indicated its intention that the Authority should be in operation as soon as possible.

The Government’s comprehensive programme of justice reform is being overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform, which is chaired by the Taoiseach and also comprises the Tánaiste, the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Main provisions of the General Scheme
Part 1 contains the short title and commencement provisions as well as definitions and repeal provisions. Head 3 defines “security matters” as those aspects of the role of the Garda Síochána that are concerned with protecting the security of the State, from terrorism; espionage; sabotage; politically motivated violence; acts intended to undermine parliamentary democracy; and acts of foreign interference whether directed from, or committed within, the State or not.

Part 2 comprises Head 5 and inserts 19 new sections into the Act of 2005 to provide for the establishment of the Authority, its membership, functions and accountability to the Minister and the Oireachtas. It also sets out policing principles and a requirement on the Authority to establish a code of ethics for the Garda Síochána. The key elements are as follows:
· section 5C provides that the Authority will comprise 9 members to be appointed by the Government. The chairperson will be appointed directly by the Government and the other 8 ordinary members will be appointed by the Government following the holding of a selection competition run by the Public Appointments Service (PAS). A resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas agreeing to the appointments is required;
· section 5F provides for removal by the Government of a member from the Authority following detailed and stringent procedures, including a resolution from both Houses of the Oireachtas;
· section 5G sets out the functions of the Authority; in essence, the Authority will—
o provide oversight in relation to the exercise the Garda Síochána of any function conferred on An Garda Síochána relating to policing matters,
o be responsible for nominating persons for appointment by the Government to senior positions in the Garda Síochána (including the Garda Commissioner),
o hold the Garda Commissioner to account for policing matters,
o approve a strategy statement submitted by the Commissioner (prior agreement of the Minister will be required),
o approve an annual policing plan relating to policing matters submitted by the Commissioner (prior agreement of the Minister will be required),
o establish and publish, within 12 months, a code of ethics that—
§ includes standards of conduct and practice for members of the Garda Síochána,
§ is fully consistent with the policing principles, and
§ encourages and facilitates the reporting of corruption or malpractice in the Garda Síochána by members and civilian staff of the Garda Síochána,
o assume overall responsibility for the maintenance of joint policing committees in conjunction with local authorities and the Garda Commissioner,
o provide information and advice to the Minister with regard to policing matters, and
o promote and support the continuous improvement of policing in the State;
· section 5H sets out the principles that will govern policing in the State as follows—
o policing should be conducted independently, impartially, in accordance with the law and in a manner that respects human rights and supports the proper and effective administration of justice,
o effective and efficient policing is dependent on the confidence, support, engagement and cooperation of local communities and requires every member of the Garda Síochána or member of the civilian staff of the Garda Síochána, in carrying out his or her functions to—
§ act professionally, ethically, and with integrity,
§ carry out his or her functions with the aim of securing the support of, and acting in co-operation with, the local community, and be guided by the code of ethics;
· section 5I requires the Authority to hold at least quarterly meetings in public (agendas, papers and reports will be published) with provision for private meetings where appropriate; and
· the Authority will be accountable to the Public Accounts Committee (section 5Q) and to other Committees of the Oireachtas (section 5R).

Part 3 comprises Heads 6 and 7. Head 6 replaces sections 9 to 19 of the Act of 2005. The main provisions are as follows:
· section 9 sets out provisions governing the appointment of the Garda Commissioner, Deputy Garda Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners, chief superintendents and superintendents. In essence, the Government will make the appointments to the rank of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner on the nomination by the Authority following the holding of a competition by the PAS for that purpose. The Authority will make the appointments to the other ranks subject to and in accordance with the relevant regulations;
· section 11 contains provisions setting out the process for removal of the Garda Commissioner, Deputy Garda Commissioner, Assistant Garda Commissioner, chief superintendent or superintendent. Three situations are catered for—
o removal of the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner in respect of policing matters by the Government on the recommendation of the Authority,
o removal of an Assistant Commissioner, chief superintendent or superintendent in connection with policing matters by the Authority, and
o removal of the Commissioner, a Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, chief superintendent or superintendent in relation to security matters by the Government;
· sections 12 and 13 set out the fair procedures to be followed before these senior officers can be removed;
· section 14 continues the present arrangements for the appointment by the Garda Commissioner of members to the ranks up to inspector. The Commissioner will retain powers of dismissal of members not above the rank of inspector; the only change being that the Authority (rather than the Government) must consent to the member’s dismissal;
· section 15 continues the current arrangements for recruitment of reserve members with a requirement for consultation with the Authority rather than the Minister where appropriate;
· section 19 continues the current arrangements for the appointment of civilian staff of the Garda Síochána but the approval for such appointment is to be given by the Authority subject to the consent of the Minister with the approval of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform;
· section 17 requires the Authority to publish, within 12 months, a code of ethics for Garda members that—
o includes standards of conduct and practice,
o is fully consistent with the policing principles, and
o encourages and facilitates the reporting of wrongdoing in the Garda Síochána by members of the Garda Síochána.

Head 7 replaces sections 20 to 33 of the Act of 2005. The main provisions are as follows:
· section 20 allows the Authority, subject to the prior agreement of the Minister, to determine, and from time to time revise, priorities and performance targets for the Garda Síochána in performing its functions relating to policing matters;
· section 21 allows the Minister to set priorities for the Garda Síochána in relation to security matters;
· section 22 requires the Authority, with the prior written agreement of the Minister, to approve the 3 year strategy statement for the Garda Síochána;
· section 23 makes provision for the preparation by the Commissioner of a policing plan relating to policing matters for approval, subject to the prior written agreement of the Minister, by the Authority;
· section 26 enables the Authority (in relation to policing matters) and the Minister (in relation to security matters), subject to Government approval, to issue written directives to the Garda Commissioner. Provision is made, in exceptional circumstances, for the Government to approve the issuing by the Minister of a written directive to the Garda Commissioner concerning any policing matter;
· section 27 restates many of the functions of the Garda Commissioner as set out in section 26 of the Act of 2005 duly amended to recognise accountability of the Commissioner to the Authority in relation to policing matters and to the Minister in relation to security matters.

Part 4 makes provision for amendments to sections 35, 36 and 38 of the Act of 2005 to transfer to the Authority the functions of the Minister in relation to Joint Policing Committees and the establishment of CCTV schemes for the purpose of securing public order.

Part 5 contains amendments to sections 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46 and 47 of the Act of 2005 dealing with the accountability of the Garda Commissioner for the exercise of his or her functions. In particular, section 40 provides for the accountability of the Garda Commissioner to the Authority in relation to policing matters and to the Minister in relation to security matters.

Part 6 contains amendments to sections 52, 53, 54 and 56 of the Act of 2005 dealing with, amongst other things, the secondment of members of the Garda Síochána to serve with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and vice versa.

Part 7 contains amendments to those provisions of the Act of 2005 relating to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to take account of the establishment of the Authority. The most important amendments are as follows:
· Head 23 amends section 102 of the Act of 2005 to enable the Authority to request GSOC to investigate any policing matter that gives rise to a concern that a member of the Garda Síochána may have committed an offence, or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings.
· Head 24 amends section 102B of the Act of 2005 (being inserted by the Garda Síóchána (Amendment)(No. 3) Bill 2014) to enable the Authority, subject to the consent of the Minister, to request GSOC to investigate any behaviour of the Garda Commissioner in the context of his or her functions relating to policing matters that leads it to believe that the Commissioner may have committed an offence or behaved in a manner that would constitute serious misconduct.
· Head 26 substitutes a new section 106 into the Act of 2005 which allows the Authority to request GSOC to examine practices or procedures of the Garda Síochána in relation to policing matters.
· Head 27 amends section 117 of the Act of 2005 to enable the Authority to request the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to initiate an inspection or inquiry in relation to aspects of the operation and administration of the Garda Síochána pertaining to policing matters.

Part 8 contains miscellaneous provisions, including a provision at Head 29 for a review of the operation of the Act by the Minister, in consultation with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, not later than 5 years after its commencement.

Part 9 will contain any necessary transitional arrangements.