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Question

128. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views on the findings of the gardaí and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission investigation into the forcible removal of glasses and the pepper spraying of a person (details supplied) on 18 September 2013. [17040/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The incident referred to by the Deputy has been investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. As the Deputy is aware the Ombudsman Commission is an independent body which was set up to receive complaints made by members of the public concerning the conduct of members of the Gardaí and I have no function in relation to the processing of individual complaints which are referred to it for investigation.
On a general note I am advised by the Garda Síochána that a detailed manual on Garda policy and procedures in relation to the use of incapacitant spray can be viewed on the Garda website www.garda.ie/Documents/User/Incapacitant%20Spray%20-%20Policy%20and%20Procedures.pdf. The manual sets out the detailed considerations which must always be taken into account by a member of the Garda Síochána before using incapacitant spray.
Any use of incapacitant spray, as with any use of force in general, must be in accordance with law, in particular the law on the use of force set out in the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. In effect, the use of incapacitant spray must be necessary and must be reasonable in the circumstances. Garda members are trained in the lawful use of incapacitant spray and, as the manual makes clear, are individually responsible and answerable for their actions in its use. It is also the case that every incident where incapacitant spray is deployed is notified to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, which can investigate any question of misuse.