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Question

48. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to implement the recommendations in the Commission on the Future of Policing Report; his views on the fact that some of the recommendations may dilute accountability; and the recommendations he will be implementing. [49794/18]

Answer

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 and reforming the method of recruitment and training of Gardaí. It also makes recommendations on external oversight arrangements as well as a recommendation on the Commissioner's future engagement with the Oireachtas.
This is a major report on one of the key functions of the State and it is receiving thorough consideration. My Department is undertaking a detailed consultation process with the Commissioner and the oversight bodies as well as other Departments which are potentially impacted by the report's recommendations. In addition, I look forward to hearing the response of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality to the report in the coming days. Once this process is complete I will return to Government in December to discuss my substantive response to the report, as well as a high level implementation plan.
I would take this opportunity to refer to the public commentary to date on the Commission's proposals to ensure effective accountability, some of which appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the report, and in particular, a sense that public scrutiny of An Garda Síochána would disappear. It is clear from the report that public scrutiny, perhaps the strongest tool at the disposal of the Policing Authority would continue under any new arrangements. I note that the Chair of the Commission, Ms Kathleen O'Toole also took the opportunity to address this misunderstanding during her engagement with the Joint Justice and Equality Committee on 7 November.
On the publication of the report in September, I set out my intention to move quickly on establishing the implementation structures recommended by the Commission to drive forward the transformation programme. There has been very significant progress in this regard. The Implementation Group on Policing Reform (the IGPR) has been established as recommended by the Commission. I am pleased to say that Ms Helen Ryan, a member of the Commission, has agreed to act as chair. The IGPR is supported by an Implementation Programme Office established in the Department of the Taoiseach.
While the programme of reform that the Commission has 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 programme of transformation. 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. I share that ambition.