Government Decisions on Garda Reform

Posted April 4th, 2014

On Tuesday the Government took a number of actions on Garda reform:

Commission of Investigation
The Government decided to appoint Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, currently serving as a Judge of the Supreme Court, as Chair of the Commission of Investigation.

The Government also discussed draft terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation.

It was agreed that the Commission of Investigation should examine all matter of public concern relating to the issue of taping of conversations in Garda stations.

The full terms of reference will be finalised shortly, in consultation with Mr Justice Fennelly.

These terms of reference will be subject to approval by Dáil Éireann.

The administrative preparations for the formal establishment of the Commission of Investigation have been commenced.

Other Legal Issues Relating to Taping in Garda Stations
The Government also decided that An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice & Equality should

– ensure the retention and preservation of all tapes
– complete a full inventory of all tapes
– devise arrangements to ensure that tapes can be accessed, as required and in accordance with the law

The Government noted that the President of the High Court has issued an instruction in the matter.

The Government also received a briefing on the latest position in the specific case related to Bandon Garda Station which has given rise to particular concern. The specific legal issues in this case will be dealt with through the courts.

The Government noted that two other inquiries relating to An Garda Síochána and its oversight (the Cooke and Guerin inquiries) are to be completed later this month.

A new Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform will be established immediately to oversee the development of proposals for an independent police authority, and other associated reforms to the policing and justice system.

The Cabinet Committee will be chaired by the Taoiseach and its membership will include the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice & Equality.

It will make formal proposals to the Government for its consideration and final approval.

The Government also agreed that it is important that there be a full public debate on the issue of policing and justice reform. It will therefore bring forward proposals for a public consultation process in the coming weeks.

The Government’s intention is to have new structures, including the appointment of a new Garda Commissioner by open competition and the establishment of a new independent policing authority, in place later this year.