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Question

110. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reforms she plans to introduce to make the State fully compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, given that Articles 1 and 2 of the convention, when read together, require a proper and adequate official investigation into deaths resulting from the actions of State agents, both from the use of lethal force and in situations where the negligence of agents leads to a death. [19812/15]

Answer

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Ireland takes very seriously its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. In particular, we are concerned to ensure the right to life, as stated in Article 2, when read in conjunction with Article 1, is respected and vindicated. As Minister for Justice and Equality, I am conscious of the responsibility which this brings, in particular because of my functions as they relate to an Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service. There is an obligation on the State to thoroughly investigate deaths which result from the use of force by State agents or in circumstances in which individuals die while in the custody or care of the State. The mechanisms whereby the death of an individual in such circumstances is investigated have changed in recent years. These changes have ensured Ireland is in a position to meet all of its obligations under the convention. Our commitment to complying with the convention was made explicit with the introduction of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003.
Under section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is required to refer to GSOC any matter that indicates to him or her that the conduct of a member or members of An Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of or serious injury to a person. GSOC which is fully independent and has extensive powers of investigation is obliged to directly investigate such fatalities. This process is compliant with Article 2 of the convention. Since 1 January 2012 the death of any prisoner in custody is the subject of an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons. The Office of the Inspector of Prisons is a statutory independent office established under the Prisons Act 2007. The inspector's investigation and reports are part of a three pronged process, the other elements being investigations by An Garda Síochána and investigations and inquests conducted by coroners.  The inspector is satisfied that the combination of these processes meets the requirements under Article 2.