39. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if An Garda Síochána has a written policy regarding the use of section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 in respect of newborn infants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3959/19]
Deputy Charles Flanagan: All Deputies will be aware that matters of policy and procedure within An Garda Síochána are matters for the Garda Commissioner. I do not have a role in the implementation of practice and procedures. I can inform Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan, however, that I am advised by the Garda Commissioner that An Garda Síochána has a specific policy regarding section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991. The relevant directive from the Garda's policy on the investigation of sexual crime, crimes against children and child welfare states:
When members encounter incidents where the removal of a child to safety must be considered, pursuant to section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 (as amended), two central tenets of the Act of 1991 should be borne in mind:
That it is generally in the best interests of a child to be brought up in her or his own family, and
That the welfare of the child is the first and paramount consideration.
While an individual garda may base his or her decision on the information provided by Tusla and its personnel, it is the garda removing the child to safety who must be satisfied that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health and-or welfare of the child concerned. I acknowledge the serious nature of this authority and An Garda Síochána works diligently at all times to adhere to the principles of the Act to protect the safety and welfare of all children.