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Question

66. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an examination of the implementation of the recommendations of a person's (details supplied) audit of the exercise by An Garda Síochána of the provisions of section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 in respect of specific actions to be taken by An Garda Síochána has been carried out; if so, if the recommendations have been implemented; if not, the reason therefor; his plans to address the gaps in implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5698/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána engaged the professional services of Professor Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, to conduct an independent audit of the exercise by An Garda Síochána of section 12, Child Care Act, 1991.
The final Report was published on 29 May 2017 and was welcomed by An Garda Síochána. While there were shortcomings identified by Professor Shannon, particularly in relation to inter-agency cooperation, it is worth noting that one of the main findings of the Report was that the exercise of section 12, Child Care Act, 1991 by members of An Garda Síochána has been necessary, proportionate and legal in its performance and without discrimination.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the findings and recommendations of the Report have now been carefully examined by An Garda Síochána and responsibility for the implementation of its recommendations rests with the National Child Protection Unit within the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, under the direction of Assistant Commissioner, Special Crime Operations.
I understand that work is ongoing to implement the recommendations and liaison is continuing with Professor Shannon, with an Action Plan now in place. A National Child-Safe-Guarding Strategic Liaison Committee, comprising representatives from An Garda Síochána and TUSLA has also been established in order to progress those recommendations common to both organisations. Further consultation on joint working and information-sharing by An Garda Síochána and TUSLA is being examined by the Office of the Minister for Children, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Professor Shannon, the Ombudsman for Children, with senior representatives from An Garda Síochána and TUSLA.
 An Garda Síochána, under the direction of Assistant Commissioner, Special Crime Operations and D/Chief Superintendent, Garda National Protective Services Bureau will liaise with all stakeholders, both within An Garda Síochána and externally, with TUSLA, my Department and other State and Non-Government Agencies to ensure the implementation of the other conclusions and recommendations included in the Report, in order to ensure An Garda Síochána and other State and Non-Government agencies continues to improve the services provided to the most vulnerable in our communities.
The Government has already dedicated substantial resources for investment in Garda IT infrastructure. A total of €342 million has been provided between 2016 and 2021, including €217 million in additional funding in the Capital Plan, and this investment will undoubtedly support a wide range of improvements to Garda systems, including PULSE.
The Deputy will also be aware that many of the issues highlighted in the Report come within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. I will, of course, assist Minister Zappone in addressing these issues where necessary, and I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána will be fully supported in pursuing the very necessary reforms to policies, procedures and practices that are identified in the Report.