95. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in establishing a dedicated fraud unit within An Garda Síochána in view of recent comments in relation to the urgent need to establish same (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50043/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that the Cost of Insurance Working Group proposed exploring the possibility that a specific unit, funded by the insurance industry, be established within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) to tackle insurance fraud.
I can inform the Deputy that the GNECB had exploratory talks with Insurance Ireland in relation to this matter, and submitted a mechanism for further cooperation to Insurance Ireland in 2017. Following receipt of the reply from Insurance Ireland in July 2018, I met with the GNECB and the Assistant Commissioner, Special Crime Operations, on 30 August 2018 to discuss this recommendation further. Following those discussions, I understand the recommendation is receiving further consideration within An Garda Síochána.
Insurance fraud is one of the central themes which has arisen out of the cost of insurance review and a number of recommendations relate to measures to combat fraud in the insurance sector. I am aware that Insurance Ireland held its Annual Fraud Conference on 23 November 2018 and that the former High Court President, Mr Nicholas Kearns, was among the conference speakers.
Judge Kearns chaired a Fraud Roundtable, a sub-group of the Cost of Insurance Working Group, overseen by the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Mr Michael D'Arcy, T.D. The Fraud Roundtable is comprised of officials from my Department; An Garda Síochána; the Office of the DPP; the Courts Service; Insurance Ireland; as well as the Department of Finance. This forum has made a valuable contribution to the cost of insurance review, focussing specifically on insurance fraud, including the reporting of suspected fraudulent insurance claims to the Gardaí and where fraud or exaggeration is identified during a court hearing. The Roundtable has also consulted with relevant stakeholders to inform its deliberations, resulting in the publication of revised ' Guidelines for the Reporting of Allegations of Fraudulent Insurance Claims to An Garda Síochána' by An Garda Síochána on 1 October 2018.
I am aware that the Minister D'Arcy intends to meet with the Garda Commissioner in December to discuss this recommendation.
My officials remain in close, ongoing contact with An Garda Síochána in relation to this matter.