129. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps she has taken to ensure that proper protocols are put in place to ensure that members of An Garda Síochána are seen to be totally impartial in witnessing applications for the registration of voters, and that no impression is given that they are partisan in such matters to any cause or party; the discussions she has had with the Garda Commissioner in relation to this matter in view of well publicised incidents recently; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17046/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that on 19 April, 2015, a Garda from Pearse Street Garda station participated in a photo-call with a retired Supreme Court Judge at the front of Pearse Street Garda Station to highlight the fact that people should register to vote for the upcoming referenda. While the event was held in good faith to promote the fact that people can register at Garda stations to vote in the upcoming referenda, it was not appropriate for this kind of photo call to take place given the status of An Garda Síochána as an apolitical and impartial organisation.
I have been informed that the Garda authorities are continuing to examine the circumstances behind the photo call that Sunday.
The Garda Commissioner has made clear publicly that Garda participation in the event outside Pearse Street Station - or any event like it - is inappropriate. As the person with statutory responsibility for the control and direction of the Force it is a matter for the Commissioner to examine the circumstances which arose and any action that might be necessary.
To avoid any reoccurrence of this behaviour, the Garda Commissioner has informed me that she has now issued an instruction reminding all members of An Garda Síochána of the necessity for members not to be associated with any political movement or viewpoint.