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Question

31. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the latest report on the Garda youth diversion programme, specifically the cases deemed not suitable for the programme that were not progressed by An Garda Síochána; his further views on similar difficulties existing in the adult justice system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4291/19]

Answer

Deputy David Stanton: I agree with the Deputy on this matter and thank him for raising it. It is very serious indeed. These issues arise from the Garda Commissioner's interim report on the handling of youth crime cases. As such, it was gardaí themselves who discovered the issues and sought to address them. The issues will be addressed through the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. I emphasise the Government's commitment to implementing the report, which provides a strategic framework to address the full range of systemic, organisational and cultural deficits within An Garda Síochána. A high-level implementation plan was published in December and endorsed by every Minister and Government Department. It is an ambitious but realistic plan and the timescale is in line with the commission's own recommendations. It is being overseen by an independently-chaired programme office located in the Department of the Taoiseach in recognition of the multiplicity of agencies and Departments charged with implementing it.
I emphasise again that this issue should not cast any shadow over the value of the Garda youth diversion programme itself. I am sure the Deputies present will agree with me on that. These issues relate to cases that were deemed unsuitable for the Garda youth diversion programme. As such, no negative implications have been identified for the diversion programme itself, which is very beneficial and has helped generations of young people take a path away from criminal activity. Neither is it regarded as having implications for the community projects funded by my Department to support the diversion programme. We must distinguish between failures of youth crime case-management and the very valuable work of the diversion programme.
I am aware that members of the Policing Authority have asked if similar issues could arise in relation to prosecutions and case management for adult offending. The Commissioner has acknowledged that it would be necessary to examine that question further. As such, there are further questions to be asked here. I am concerned to ensure we have assurances about the quality of Garda prosecution procedures and systems in relation to all crimes, not just youth crime. The Policing Authority has indicated that it will assess whether there are any wider implications for Garda crime management and prosecution procedures which need to be addressed. The authority is responsible for independent oversight of policing and is clearly the appropriate body to examine these matters in the first instance. My Department has already been in touch with the authority and will maintain close contact to monitor developments to ensure we get a clearer overall picture of criminal case management and prosecution.