24. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the proposed Garda Síochána board as recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing; his further views on whether this will lead to a decrease in external oversight of An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42438/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware the Commission on the Future of Policing published its report on 18 September. The report contains a wide range of recommendations which comprehensively address all the themes set out in the Commission's terms of reference.
The Report makes many innovative proposals aimed at strengthening our national security arrangements; empowering the Garda Commissioner to ensure more effective management of the Garda organisation; supporting the governance of the Garda organisation through the introduction of a Board as referenced by the Deputy; and reforming the method of recruitment and training of Gardaí. It also makes a number of recommendations on external oversight arrangements as well as on the Commissioner’s engagement with the Oireachtas.
This is a major report on one of the key functions of the State and it is now receiving appropriate consideration. My Department is undertaking a detailed consultation process with the new Commissioner and other agencies as well as with other Government departments which are potentially impacted by the report's recommendations. As part of this process, I have asked the Garda Commissioner to respond to the recommendations in the report insofar as they directly concern An Garda Síochána. I have requested that this response will include an implementation plan of how he intends to take matters forward.
I have also written to the Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality and I look forward to hearing their direct response to the Report in the coming weeks. Once this engagement is completed, I will return to Government to discuss my substantive response as well as a High-level Implementation Plan and proposed project structure before the end of the year.
In that context my Department, in consultation with the Department of the Taoiseach, is moving quickly to establish the Implementation Group for Policing Reform and Implementation Programme Office as recommended by the Commission. These matters are being advanced at a senior official level and I expect these structures to be in place in the near future including the appointment of an Independent Chair to lead the Implementation Group. Given the whole-of-Government reach of the report which envisages a new holistic approach to policing and public safety, this Implementation Group and Programme Office will be based in the Department of the Taoiseach.
While the programme of reform that the Commission outlined is undoubtedly an opportunity for transformational change, it is also extremely challenging, requiring actions across Government. It is prudent that we take some time now to ensure that the necessary structures and resources are in place to deliver this needed reform. It will take time to fully implement the recommendations in the report and the Commission has suggested that the centenary of the establishment of An Garda Síochána in 2022 would be an appropriate target for the transformation to be completed.