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Question

84. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice if a full independent investigation will be carried out into issues of 999 calls not being responded to by members of An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37159/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Any inappropriate cancellation of 999 calls is a serious issue. This falls significantly below the high standards that the public expect from the Garda and the high standards that An Garda Síochána sets for itself. I am particularly concerned that anyone experiencing domestic abuse, and, indeed, anyone in a vulnerable position who summoned the courage to seek assistance may not have received it. I welcome the apology made by the Garda Commissioner and the Commissioner has assured me that when people call 999 now, they can expect and trust that An Garda Síochána will help and that should always be the case.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Policing Authority was asked by the former Minister, Deputy McEntee, to oversee the review being carried by An Garda Síochána into this matter, and there have been several engagements between members of the Policing Authority and An Garda Síochána since March this year. This is in keeping with the role of the authority in providing independent oversight of policing services and reporting on and advising the Minister of the day. As the Deputy will be aware, the Commissioner met with the Policing Authority in public last month, where he gave a detailed account of these serious shortcomings and outlined what steps have been taken by Garda management to ensure it does not happen again. I understand he will meet the authority again later this month.
It is vital that the best interests of victims, and anyone whose calls were cancelled inappropriately, are the priority and focus throughout this process. The Commissioner has informed me that the Garda is contacting people whose 999 calls were cancelled to apologise and to ask if they require help from An Garda Síochána. He has briefed me several times on the matter and assured me that this work will be completed quickly, and that once that process is complete, he will give a full account to the Policing Authority. When the authority has completed its work and reported to me, I will examine its conclusions and take any action warranted on foot of its report.