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Question

436. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will amend the terms of reference of the commission of investigation being carried out by Mr. Justice Kevin O'Higgins to include the examination of a further case (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1290/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy is referring to the Commission of Investigation being established on foot of the recommendations of Mr Seán Guerin, SC, in his report of 6 May 2014 on how allegations made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe concerning certain cases connected to the Cavan/Monaghan Garda Division were handled. I published the draft Order proposing the establishment of this Commission of Investigation on 19 December 2014. The draft Order includes the terms of reference for the Commission. All of the matters recommended by Mr Guerin SC for inclusion in a Commission of Investigation are included in the terms of reference.
The case referred to by the Deputy is amongst the complaints being considered under the mechanism established for the independent review of certain allegations of Garda misconduct, or inadequacies in the investigation of certain allegations, which have been made to me as Minister for Justice and Equality, or the Taoiseach, or to other public representatives with a view to determining to what extent and in what manner further action may be required in each case. A panel consisting of two Senior and five Junior Counsel was established for the purpose, all selected on the basis of their experience of the criminal justice system. The review of each complaint will consist of an examination of the papers in the complaint by a counsel from the panel. Following the review of each complaint a recommendation will be made as to whether any further action is desirable and could practicably be taken.
I would assure the Deputy that where further investigation is recommended by the review then that will occur. However I would also make the point that, in many cases, counsel may recommend that no further action can reasonably be taken. This might be, for example, because a case has already been through due process even though the complainant remains unhappy with the outcome. The crucial point, however, is that every case will have been reviewed by independent counsel, who will have made an objective recommendation.
Where counsel do recommend further investigations, I will be very strongly guided by that advice. Clearly, there are a number of possible options for further investigations, in particular by way of referral to GSOC, but any recommendation for referral of a case to a commission of investigation will be very carefully considered, including whether this could be achieved by way of amending the terms of reference of an existing commission or the establishment of a separate commission.