The Deputy is referring to the independent review mechanism, which was established to review allegations of Garda misconduct or perhaps inadequacies in the investigation of certain allegations, which had been made to me as Minister for Justice and Equality, to the Department or to the Taoiseach or other Deputies, including Deputy Niall Collins, with a view to determining to what extent and in what manner further action might be taken in each case. This was one of the actions agreed as a result of the Guerin report. A panel, consisting of two senior counsel and five junior counsel, was set up and its members were selected on the basis of their experience of the criminal justice system.
The review is under way and is examining 282 cases that have been referred. This is a significant number of cases and somewhat higher than originally estimated but it was important to refer to the panel all of the allegations on hand, with minimal filtering, to ensure every appropriate case got the benefit of an independent review. The review of each allegation consists of an examination of the papers by a counsel from the panel and does not involve interviews or interaction with complainants or any other form of investigation, although counsel may recommend that I seek further information to assist in coming to an appropriate recommendation in any particular case.
The Deputy asked about terms of reference. I have asked counsel to make a recommendation on what action, if any, might be appropriate in each case. In this regard, without in any way prejudging the outcome in any individual case, it is important to be realistic and to acknowledge that in some cases, and perhaps in a majority, a decision may be taken that no further action is recommended. This might be in cases where all court efforts have been exhausted or there has been a full examination by relevant bodies.
The Deputy asked about a conflict of interest and every step has been taken to ensure that nothing arises that creates a conflict of interest and in any way detracts from the integrity of the process. Just as in court, where there may be a potential for a conflict of interest, we are making absolutely sure that there is no conflict of interest.