140. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she is satisfied with the capabilities and appropriateness of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to act as a confidential recipient; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19527/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 came into operation on 15 July 2014 as part of this Government's comprehensive approach to enhance the protection available to whistle blowers, including Garda whistleblowers. Section 19 of the Act inserted a new provision into the Garda Síochána Act 2005, which provides for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) to be a prescribed body under the 2014 Act to investigate disclosures relating to the Garda Síochána, including disclosures from members of the Garda Síochána. The new provision also repealed the Garda Síochána (Confidential Reporting of Corruption or Malpractice) Regulations 2007. The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (Section 7(2)) Order 2014 (SI No. 339 of 2014) which prescribed GSOC as a body to receive protected disclosures came into effect on 23 July 2014.
Members of the Garda Síochána may now communicate their concerns to the Garda Commissioner,as their employer, or to GSOC, as a prescribed body, under the provisions of the 2014 Act. As a consequence, they are also entitled to the protections provided by the Act. I am satisfied that the legislative provisions now in place, including the protections afforded for whistleblowers, will prove to be an effective remedy for members who wish to report their concerns regarding potential wrongdoing.
It is worth emphasising that GSOC is an independent statutory body. It has extensive powers under the 2005 Act to enable it to carry out its responsibilities. I am satisfied that GSOC has the necessary independence and powers and the capability to deal with any protected disclosures made to them.