149. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the independent review mechanism will complete its work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19529/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy is referring to 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, 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.
A total of 319 complaints were referred to the Panel for consideration. It was originally anticipated that the review would last some ten to twelve weeks. The volume and complexity of cases has led to the review taking longer than originally anticipated, but it is important that counsel take the time necessary to consider each case fully and carefully. It is therefore considered inappropriate to place a time constraint upon the working of the Panel. Nevertheless counsel are making every effort to conclude their work as soon as is reasonably practicable.
The review of each complaint consists 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.
Although counsel have not yet completed their work, my Department has received a number of recommendations. The first batch of draft submissions and letters of notification of the outcome of the review have been submitted to me for consideration. I believe that it would be in the best interests of all concerned that an independent element should now be brought into this part of the process. I have decided to appoint a former judicial figure to oversee the preparation of these summaries. That person appointed will be able to independently vouch for the fact that the summaries of conclusions and the reasoning behind them are a fair reflection of the advice which has been made available to the Department.
The House will appreciate that the IRM was an unprecedented process which went far beyond anything which any previous Government has done to address the type of issues which had arisen. I hope the House can accept that what I have decided about communicating decisions is the right course of action to take.