173. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice her plans to establish a formal accredited training service for oversight personnel employed in GSOC to further empower them to critically investigate Garda actions; the analysis her Department has carried out into the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12295/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has a hugely important role to play in ensuring that public confidence in An Garda Síochána is safeguarded and, as such, it is an independent oversight body with extensive powers under the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
The Government is committed to ensuring that GSOC has the necessary supports and resources in order to fulfil its statutory functions and mandate. A provision of €11.27 million has been made for GSOC in Budget 2021.
I am informed that GSOC is currently putting in place a comprehensive Learning and Development (L&D) Strategy to identify its key learning and development needs, including the need for appropriate accreditation and continuous professional development, for all its staff. This is a particular imperative for GSOC in light of new personnel joining the organisation, advances in investigative techniques, the increasing complexity of the policing environment in Ireland and the nature and range of functions envisaged for GSOC under the Government’s programme for policing reform arising from the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.
It is not possible to determine the cost of the required training programme in advance of a detailed specification of requirements being completed by GSOC. Nevertheless, it is clear that the cost will be substantial, given that an extensive programme is required to be designed, procured and delivered over the period 2021-23 and for the ongoing provision of training and continuous professional development thereafter. When GSOC was first established in 2007, UK services were used to provide appropriate training for its investigators.
It is essential to ensure that GSOC’s staff have the appropriate skills, knowledge and expertise commensurate with carrying out their statutory oversight functions in accordance with best practice, and my Department will continue to engage with GSOC with regard to their training needs.