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Question

182. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedure for Cabinet sign-off on Garda promotions; the protocol when gardaí put forward for promotion are the subject of an ongoing investigation; and the status of necessary improvements to the management of the fixed charge processing office. [5310/15]

200. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to reform the appointments process regarding the promotion of senior gardaí; her role in this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5450/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 200 together.
Promotions in the Garda Síochána to all ranks from Sergeant to Assistant Commissioner are covered by the Garda Síochána Promotion Regulations of 2006. Regulation 3 provides that:
(1) The selection of members for promotion in competitions held under these Regulations shall be based on merit and the readiness and suitability for promotion of the candidates.
(2) Competitions shall be conducted in a manner which is -
(a) fair, impartial and objective,
(b) in line with best practice,
(c) consistent throughout, and
(d) open, accountable and transparent.
Prior to the interview stage, reports on candidates for promotion to all ranks from Sergeant to Chief Superintendent are completed by the candidate’s supervisor appropriate to the rank being applied for. In relation to ongoing investigations, the integrity of any internal Garda disciplinary inquiries or investigations by GSOC, and any related proceedings, must of course be respected. Where any findings are made against a member due process must be followed. The Garda Code also provides for the reporting of concerns in relation to the conduct of any member who is on a promotion list, but again due process must be observed in the investigation of any such concern.
On completion of the interview process, a list of successful candidates is provided to the Garda Commissioner who then publishes the final list by way of bulletin throughout the organisation.
Appointments to positions at the rank of Sergeant and Inspector are made by the Commissioner and appointments to the ranks of Superintendent, Chief Superintendent and Assistant Commissioner are made by the Government (by way of Government memorandum brought by the Minister). In both cases appointments are made from the list in strict order of their position on the list.
The Deputy will be aware that the of the post of Garda Commissioner was recently filled through open competition and that the vacant posts of Deputy Commissioner will be filled in the same manner.
Insofar as the management of the Fixed Charge Processing Office (FCPO) is concerned, the Garda authorities introduced a new policy, with effect from 16 June 2014, to give affect to the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate Report on the operation of the Fixed Charge Processing System (FCPS). The recent report of the Garda Professional Standards Unit recognised the significant improvements that have been made on foot of the new policy.
It is the case, however, that the report identified areas which require further attention and made a series of recommendations to address these. A number of these recommendations relate to Garda operations and procedures and have been accepted by the Commissioner.
The report also makes a number of recommendations with respect to legislative and related cross-cutting aspects of the FCPS, and I have referred these to the Criminal Justice (FCPS) Working Group for further examination.
I have also decided, again in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the system, to put in place a further assurance and oversight mechanism. In particular, I have appointed Judge Matthew Deery, former President of the Circuit Court, to act as Independent Oversight authority for the FCPS cancellation process.