Written Answers. - Garda Investigations.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

327 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will commission an independent inquiry into the actions and conduct of gardaí during the course of their investi gation of subsequent false allegations made against a person (details supplied). [19313/03]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the origin of this investigation was a report to the gardaí in March 1997 of the alleged sexual abuse of Child "A". In April 1997 another Garda station received a separate report in relation to Child "B". Both of these children attended the same school for children with special needs. The gardaí, in conjunction with the health board, began an investigation into the allegations. At the conclusion of the investigation 14 children had made allegations.

Two people were arrested and questioned in June 1997 about the allegations. Both suspects were re-arrested and questioned in June 1998. I am informed that gardaí and health board officials conducted a comprehensive investigation lasting two years, which included the interviewing, validation and assessment of the children involved.

The completed investigation file was forwarded to the DPP who directed that a charge be brought against the person in question in respect of two of the 14 complaints. The presiding judge held a preliminary examination during which the children were interviewed by the judge and the legal teams via video link. Having considered the case, the presiding judge sent the case forward for trial. The case came to trial in Dublin Circuit Court in 2002 and lasted for almost a month. Following deliberation, the jury found the accused not guilty. I am informed that at no stage during the trial did the judge criticise or mention unfavourably the actions of the gardaí. In these circumstances I have no evidence available to me that would warrant holding an independent inquiry.

The fact that a person is acquitted after trial is of itself no basis for concluding that an investigation of an alleged offence ought not to have occurred and-or that there should have been no prosecution and-or that the investigation or prosecution was mishandled. If the Deputy has some other factual material basis for alleging misconduct or advocating any form of inquiry she should draw that to the attention of the appropriate person.