31. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will include the Garda representative organisations in the working group that is examining industrial relations structures for An Garda Síochána. [15666/17]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): This Working Group has been established to consider the technical legislative changes required to provide the Garda Associations with access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. This will involve consideration of a number of important and complex issues. The Group brings together officials from the Government Departments and bodies with the relevant expertise and responsibility in these areas and Mr John Murphy, retired Secretary General in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is chairing the Group.
I do, of course, accept that the Garda Associations have a very significant interest in these matters and this is not a question of me excluding the Garda Associations from this process. The Working Group is to report to me, as Minister, with proposals to amend legislation. Clearly the Working Group will have to take a view on what are very complex and difficult issues and, in doing that, they must consult with all interested parties, including the Garda Associations. I have made this very clear to the Associations and to the Chair of the Working Group.
Initial consultation sessions with the Garda Associations took place on 16 March and I understand that the Working Group will shortly circulate a consultation paper to the Associations setting out options in relation to the key issues under consideration. Further consultations will follow between then and the completion of this phase of the work in May. It is vitally important that the Associations take advantage of the opportunity being provided, to engage positively and constructively with the Working Group, in order to ensure that any conclusions reached or proposals made by the Group are informed by the views of the Associations.
The Associations are not being excluded from this process; I have ensured that they are being provided with every opportunity to engage with the Working Group and to make their views known. This will continue through to the conclusion of the current phase of the work of the Group which focusses on the legislation. The second phase of the Group’s work concerns internal industrial relations processes in An Garda Síochána. I want to confirm here today that I will ensure that the Associations are more integrated into that phase of the process and I have asked my officials to work through how this might be arranged with the Chair of the Working Group and with the Associations. However, for the time being, where the focus of the Group is on the legislation, I am satisfied that the arrangements put in place are appropriate and reflect the differing roles and responsibilities of the Government and the Associations.