Filter

Question

15. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will commission a public inquiry into a case (details supplied) in view of the fact that the GSOC report on the tragic case has failed to provide answers to the family or the public that are needed to restore confidence in the state criminal justice system and the rule of law. [49788/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): In the first instance, let me again express my sympathy to the family concerned in this tragic case. As Minister, I am very regularly engaged on this case.
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has a hugely important role in ensuring that public confidence in the Garda Síochána is safeguarded, and has extensive powers under the Garda Síochána Act Act to enable it to carry out its responsibilities. I do not share the Deputy's implied criticism of GSOC or its report into the tragic case that is the subject of her question.
This Government's position on GSOC is very clear; the Commission has our full support and we are providing it with the necessary resources to perform its important functions. It is incumbent upon this House to respect GSOC's independence, as it is this guarantee of independence which is the hallmark of effective oversight.
As the Deputy will be aware, there is a current investigation being conducted by GSOC into conduct which may lead to disciplinary proceedings against one or more Garda members. That investigation is on-going and I do not propose to comment further at this time. I respect GSOC's independence and it would be entirely inappropriate of me to comment in relation to a continuing investigation.
I can say that I have been informed by GSOC that the outcome of that investigation will be submitted to the GSOC Commissioners as soon as is practicable. Upon receipt of the report, GSOC will, in accordance with section 97 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, submit a report to the Garda Commissioner outlining its findings. This report will also contain a recommendation as to whether or not disciplinary proceedings should be instituted under the Garda Síochána Disciplinary Regulations against any of the Garda members subject of the investigation.
As I have made clear to the House, both in response to the motion calling for an inquiry and subsequently in response to various Parliamentary Questions, it is imperative that the independence of the Ombudsman Commission be respected and a decision on any further action be deferred until the current investigation is completed. I reiterate the point that the question of what further action might be taken will be fully considered by Government as soon as the GSOC investigation is completed.
I am very mindful of the Dáil resolution passed earlier this year seeking to have a public inquiry to examine the circumstances leading to the death of a young man. In the course of the debate, I made it clear that both I and the Government recognise the failings that occurred in the period leading up to the fatal road traffic incident.
It is worth mentioning that the Dáil motion also referred to the need to examine the actions of the Gardaí, the Director of Public Prosecutions, GSOC and the courts. I do not need to point out again the statutory or constitutional independence of the DPP, the Courts and GSOC.
Having said that, I am anxious to see how I can progress matters, even while the GSOC investigation continues. Any further investigation, if it is to happen, must be focused on those questions to which answers have not been provided to date, rather than rehearsing what is already known about this tragic case.
To that end, I have written to the Attorney General seeking his advice on how I can best give effect to the wishes of the House. Upon receipt of a response from the Attorney General, I will be in a position to outline how I propose to proceed. In the meantime, it is important that GSOC be given the necessary time and space to complete the investigations free from hindrance and encumbrance.