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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 20 Oct 2015

Vol. 893 No. 2

Priority Questions

Independent Review Mechanism

Niall Collins


103. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality for an update on the work of the independent review mechanism; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35845/15]

The purpose of the question is to obtain an update on the work of the independent review mechanism. This matter has been discussed in the Chamber on many occasions. The review mechanism, which is examining the cases of more than 320 persons who have submitted documentation to the Minister, has been in place for more than 17 months. I ask the Minister to provide an update on the matter.

The Deputy is referring to the mechanism established for the independent review of certain allegations of Garda misconduct or inadequacies in the investigation of certain allegations, which have been made to me, as Minister for Justice and Equality, the Taoiseach and other Deputies. The decision to establish the independent review mechanism was an unprecedented process initiated by the Government to bring an independent examination to bear on allegations of wrongdoing. The initiative went far beyond anything that any previous Government did to address the types of issue raised by these allegations.

As I have repeatedly emphasised, the independent review mechanism was not established to act as a commission of inquiry or investigation, nor was it designed to make findings. Its purpose was to triage allegations to determine whether further action was needed and, if so, what that further action should be.

As will become obvious, the range of matters covered by the cases referred to the panel was very wide. It included property disputes, including some that were referred by Deputy Niall Collins, probate issues, disputes between neighbours and dissatisfaction with the outcome of civil and criminal court actions, as well as decisions of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. These are all matters in which I, as Minister, do not have a role. Nevertheless, they were considered by the panel despite the fact that, at face value, they were outside the remit of the independent review mechanism.

I am happy to confirm to the Deputy that the panel has provided recommendations to me in all 320 cases submitted to it and has therefore largely concluded its work. The issuing of notification letters to complainants commenced on 29 June. To date, 216 complainants have been notified of the outcome of the review of their cases. Letters will continue to issue to all complainants until the process is completed. I am clear and mindful that all complainants are anxious to know the outcome of the review of their case and every effort is being made to conclude the process. Given the figures, I am confident that it will be concluded shortly. In each case, a summary is prepared together with a draft letter to the complainant. Mr Justice Roderick Murphy is continuing to review the summaries and the draft letters of notification to ensure that they are a fair and accurate reflection of the recommendations made by counsel.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

I have previously assured Deputies that where further investigation is recommended by the review then that will occur. Where cases have resulted in recommendations for further action, including, for example, referral to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, or requesting a report from the Garda Commissioner in accordance with section 41(2) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, I have accepted those recommendations. The issues involved in the cases also range considerably, from tragic deaths to property disputes. With respect to the cases for which the panel has recommended no further action by the Minister, it should be noted that the reasons for this recommendation vary greatly but include the fact that the complaint disclosed no allegation of any wrongdoing by the Garda; the case related to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution which is independent of the Minister in relation to decisions as to whether or not a prosecution is warranted; or the case related to the courts which are also independent and it would be improper for the Minister to interfere in any way with their decisions. Furthermore, it should be noted that there are many cases which have already been through some form of process whether it was in the courts, GSOC or some other body.

To conclude, I note that there has been considerable media coverage recently concerning the review process. Some of the reporting has been quite inaccurate. Nevertheless, I recognise the genuine concerns raised by those whose complaints were forwarded to the panel for review.

The Minister will be aware that the "Prime Time" programme on RTE carried a report in recent weeks on this matter during which a number of issues were aired. I want to raise those issues with the Minister now. Before I mention them, the Minister will recall that there was a great deal of disquiet about the structure of the independent review mechanism and, among some, about the lack of opportunity to engage directly and face-to-face with the panel. They felt that disadvantaged the work. During the RTE programme, the following people had their cases discussed: Patrick Nugent, Adrian Moynihan, Shane Tuohey, Catherine Davis, John Kelly and Shane O'Farrell. None of those people was happy with the structure and the outcome, at least in so far as RTE "Prime Time" portrayed. Indeed, some of those people have been in touch with me to confirm that position.

The Minister said the 320 cases had now concluded. Will a proportion require some follow-up action and, if so, what will it be? The Minister has concluded that no further action will be taken in some cases, which have been referred back to GSOC. I am sure there is a cohort of cases, however, that will require further investigation. How will that be done? Will there be a catch-all commission of investigation to take on the block of cases which the Minister deems to merit further investigation independently?

It is obviously the Deputy's decision, but it is not appropriate to come to the House and talk about individual cases.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard Durkan)

It is not.

I am not at liberty to talk about individual cases. In fact, I am not going to make any comment as to what stage of the process some of the cases that were referred to in the RTE programme were or were not at; one could make the assumption that they were all at different stages of the process. The process is not complete. I will make a full statement when the process is complete and give all the details of the recommendations. I am accepting every recommendation that has come to me. To answer the Deputy's question, of those recommendations, there will be a percentage, and there has been already, where there are further recommendations. Those recommendations can vary from asking the Garda Commissioner, for example, to investigate a case further and to meet with families to recommending a formal report under section 41(2) of the Garda Síochána Act. If that is recommended, I will accept it. It is equally open to recommend a commission of investigation in relation to cases.

I emphasise that many of these cases go back ten, 20 and 30 years. They are historical cases that have been in the system in a variety of ways. I have set up an objective, independent process. It is totally objective. It is not a commission of investigation, rather it is a view of the written evidence that has been submitted by the complainants. As I said in the House previously, over 200 people submitted further details in relation to their complaints and that has all been taken into account in arriving at decisions.

In all instances, I am accepting the recommendations of the independent panel.

I accept that the Minister is accepting the panel's recommendations. I did not ask her to comment on any of the specific cases.

The Deputy mentioned them, though.

I merely mentioned those that were named in part of the "Prime Time" programme. It would be inappropriate for any of us to ask the Minister to comment on individual cases.

Their naming on "Prime Time" is not necessarily covered by privilege here.

I understand. The Minister stated that many people had submitted additional written evidence to the panel. Given the fact that many people have expressed dissatisfaction with the procedure, its outcome and their inability to engage with the panel, is the Minister open to establishing a commission of investigation that would capture their cases if that is merited and recommended by those who are informing her in her decision?

I remain open to whatever recommendation comes to me from the independent panel - for example, a commission of investigation into a particular case. However, the process is not yet complete. I have asked for a full report to analyse the process and describe the types of case that the supervising counsel considers appropriate to be brought to my attention in terms of recommendations. I will publish it in full.

Cross-Border Co-operation

Pádraig MacLochlainn


104. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she has held discussions with the Minister of Justice in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mr. David Ford, on the proposal by the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, BIPA, for the establishment of a permanent cross-Border task force aimed at targeting organised criminal gangs involved with cross-Border illicit trade; and if she supports the proposal. [35320/15]

As the Minister knows, BIPA conducted an extensive investigation into cross-Border crime over the course of almost a year. To tackle criminality, one of the BIPA's key recommendations was for a cross-Border task force involving the policing and revenue services on this island and with a dedicated all-Ireland focus. Does the Minister support this proposal and will she work with her counterpart in the North, Mr. David Ford, to bring it about?

Combatting organised crime in whatever guise is among the policy priorities that the Government set out this year and is an operational priority for An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners. It is well recognised that organised crime seeks to exploit the Border. Cross-Border crime and the people involved pose serious issues. I have held many discussions with the Northern Minister, Mr. Ford, about the challenges presented by cross-Border organised crime as well as our responses to same. Recently, we discussed these challenges at a seminar in Sligo on cross-Border organised crime, where I was impressed to see the staff of the Garda and the PSNI working closely together to target this problem. Down the years, many initiatives have resulted from such discussions.

I support the valuable contribution made by the BIPA's report on cross-Border crime. Well done to all involved. A key feature of the ongoing work is the inter-agency nature of law enforcement co-operation, in that it involves the two police forces and the two customs services on the island as well as the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB, and the UK's National Crime Agency.

Two cross-Border enforcement groups that target fuel fraud and tobacco fraud, respectively, have been in operation for some years and have made a considerable contribution to operational co-operation in the area. Recently, at the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence, I put into the public arena some of the up-to-date figures on, for example, fuel smuggling and recent successes. Given the fact that 131 garages have been closed around the country, this is a serious issue that requires attention. The Revenue Commissioners are active in this regard and have made combatting fuel laundering one of their priorities. It is implementing a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem, as Deputy Niall Collins knows. However, I am open to considering any further action such as that recommended in the report.

I am pleased to hear the Minister is open to the suggestion on diesel laundering, cigarette smuggling, cattle rustling, petrol stretching and other types of criminality. Wherever there is a border in Europe, never mind on the island of Ireland, there is an opportunity for criminals to take advantage of it. The fact that we have good co-operation between the PSNI and An Garda Síochána and between the two revenue organisations on the island means it would not be a considerable step to set up a joint task force with a dedicated focus on criminality across the region. As the Minister knows, this criminality has extended to murder and attacks on republicans across the Border region. Mr. Frank McCabe, a senior republican, was targeted by criminals. His son was seriously injured and almost killed; he lost an eye and is still recovering. There are many others. As Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, I can speak with authority on the fact that when we stand up to these people, we put our lives on the line. The Government should establish a joint task force to tackle once and for all these people who are profiteering and taking advantage of the Border.

Obviously, it is important that there be absolute clarity from all of us on how we view these issues. Cross-Border crime continues to be a very significant issue. These matters are kept under constant review at an operational level in light of the various changing operational demands and the analysis of crime trends. Certainly, it is an operational decision as to whether another task force is necessary. There are two already. We need to ensure we make the very best use of the resources in An Garda Síochána and also the cross-Border resources. There is a clear need to identify this issue as a priority on both sides of the Border. I have no doubt but that it is identified as an absolute priority.

Let me put on the floor of the House the facts on the Revenue Commissioners, which show the success of some of the operations. We do not hear enough about this sometimes. The statistics also show the scale of the problem. In 2014 alone, there were 1,109 detections of marked fuel oil, and two oil laundries were detected and shut down, resulting in the seizure of 50,340 litres of oil. There were 5,852 seizures of cigarettes by the Revenue Commissioners, with 53 million cigarettes seized, to a value of €25.5 million. Very significant operations are being carried out in the Border area to tackle fuel and cigarette smuggling and other illegal activity, which must be dealt with head-on.

I am mindful that the recommendation from the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly follows its meetings with senior police officers, county managers and a range of key stakeholders. I met senior gardaí and PSNI officers in my role as justice spokesperson and strongly believe that we need a joint task force. We need to join up the capacity on the island to tackle the problem. I do not need to remind the Minister that the problem has cost us hundreds of millions of euro over the years, which money could be invested in our health service or education system. The illegal activity damages legitimate businesses which have struggled through the austerity era. I would like to see a dedicated focus. Every single Deputy and Senator in these Houses would be supportive of such a proposal. The Minister should consider joining up the resources on this island, working with her counterpart in the North and delivering a clear message to those on both sides of the Border that there will be zero tolerance of the tiny minority who are taking huge amounts of money from our revenue and plaguing communities in the Border area.

There is zero tolerance of these activities. There are currently two dedicated cross-Border enforcement groups. I assure the Deputy that this will continue. If there is any reason to take further operational decisions on the exact format of the response, they will be taken.

Garda Misconduct Allegations

Mick Wallace


105. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality for an update on the investigations into serious allegations made by two serving Garda Síochána whistleblowers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35505/15]

I ask the Minister for an update on the investigations into allegations made by two serving Garda whistleblowers. Is the Minister happy with the protected disclosures process? These two investigations have been ongoing for the past 18 months, at enormous personal cost to the two individuals involved.

I am assuming that the two whistleblowers the Deputy is referring to are the same cases raised in his parliamentary question in May. In the first instance, I again make the point that all of us in this House must be careful, and the Deputy has not mentioned individual names, in discussing individual cases of whistleblowing. Protection for whistleblowers rightly prioritises the confidentiality of the process, which is central to the efficacy of that process.

The Deputy is familiar with the confidential reporting process that was in place previously, which provided for the appointment of an independent confidential recipient. That confidential recipient was required to transmit each confidential report to the Garda Commissioner. Only where a confidential report contained an allegation which related to the Garda Commissioner was it transmitted to the Minister. In transmitting a report, the confidential recipient was obliged to protect the identity of the whistleblower, etc. I will not go into further detail on that.

This was replaced by the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, which came into operation on 15 July 2014 as part of our comprehensive response to enhance the protection available to whistleblowers. Under the Act, members of the Garda Síochána may now communicate their concerns to the Garda Commissioner, as their employer, or to GSOC as a prescribed body, and are entitled to the protections provided by the Act. I am satisfied that the legislative provisions now in place under the 2014 Act, including the protections afforded for whistleblowers, will prove to be an effective remedy for Garda members who wish to report their concerns regarding potential wrongdoing.

As I have previously advised the Deputy in regard to these particular cases, I have no function in regard to criminal investigations and the submission of files to the Director of Public Prosecutions, or in regard to the investigation of complaints by GSOC. Those are independent processes that go on.

I find it hard to credit that the Minister is happy with this process because the two individuals concerned are very unhappy. In terms of one of them, the initial internal investigation was corrupted by a leaking of information to one of the people the allegations were made against. Subsequently, as the Minister is aware, the same Assistant Commissioner was involved with the other garda. It beggars belief that the Commissioner would make that decision.

Zero tolerance is what the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, says it is getting from the gardaí in trying to address one of the cases. In terms of the other one, it has been an unmitigated cover-up for a long time in regard to drugs in the Athlone area, and it leaves so much to be desired. The Commissioner's handling of the situation has been nothing short of a disaster. There are repercussions, and they are very sad.

There is a process under way that is a statutory framework now in terms of investigations where whistleblowers make a claim. Cases that are currently active are involved in that process. That is the first point I would make. The process is not completed. Deputy Wallace has made claims in regard to cover-up and drugs offences. If he has that evidence about drugs in the Athlone area, as he has now quoted, I ask him to please provide that to An Garda Síochána.

At the end of this process, if issues arise regarding the procedures that have been brought in for dealing with whistleblowers under the new statutory arrangements, I will examine them and review how the legislation is working, if that evidence is brought to my attention at the end of this process.

Why is there zero compliance from the gardaí regarding the first case?

There were commitments to hand over material but they were not honoured. As for the other case, the Minister suggested I should give the information about the drugs, but the Commissioner has it. The person alleged to have protected the individual involved in the drugs happens to be in the Phoenix Park now overseeing the implementation of the Garda inspector's report. The Commissioner has not dealt well with the matter by any measure. A person has lost his life recently in Athlone because of drugs. I would have thought the Government should take this seriously. The fact is that this has not been dealt with for a long time and someone has now lost his life. There are serious questions to be answered. What is happening to that individual in Athlone is shameful.

We went to see him last Saturday morning because we were concerned about his health and what is happening to him. He is being bullied and intimidated by a senior member in his barracks. There has been no feedback on the investigation. I cannot believe the Commissioner can stand over this or that the Minister can stand over the Commissioner's role in it.

Deputy Wallace is making some outrageous allegations in respect of the behaviour of An Garda Síochána and the force's compliance with what is a statutory obligation. That is what Deputy Wallace is saying. He said that the Garda had not been involved in outlining-----

Yes, that is it, 100%.

My information is to the contrary and that the force is fully involved in the process in respect of whistleblowing.

The Minister should talk to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission about it.

If Deputy Wallace has evidence to the contrary and he wishes to supply it to me, he should give it to me. In the meantime, I hope the whistleblowers will get involved in the various avenues they have to make their concerns known. I expect the Garda has been responding and will respond to them.

Garda Station Closures

Niall Collins


106. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality for her views on whether the €500,000 realised by Garda Síochána station closures since 2012 has been a worthwhile saving; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35217/15]

Will the Minister comment on the recent disclosure to the effect that the saving to the Exchequer following the closure of 139 Garda stations has amounted to €500,000 and whether this represents bad value for money?

In the review of the Garda station network Garda management concluded in respect of certain stations, many of which were only open part-time and manned by a single garda, that resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front line if those stations were no longer staffed and maintained. In reaching these conclusions, Garda management reviewed all aspects of the Garda Síochána policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the overall operation of Garda stations. The programme supports the provision of 21st century policing services for urban and rural areas and allows front-line gardaí to be managed and deployed with greater mobility and flexibility and in a more focused fashion, in particular with regard to various targeted police operations. As a result of the programme, communities have benefitted from increased Garda visibility and increased patrolling hours have been enabled.

In tandem with the rationalisation of stations the Government has been determined to ensure that the Garda Síochána has the resources to deliver highly mobile and responsive Garda patrols in rural and urban communities. A total of €29 million has been invested.

I wish to inform the House that today I am announcing the allocation of a further €5.3 million to An Garda Síochána for the purchase of 260 vehicles between now and the end of the year. This new investment will provide the Garda with additional high-powered vehicles, marked and unmarked patrol cars, cars for surveillance and covert operations, motor cycles for high-visibility road policing and vehicles for public order policing. This investment in a modern effective and fit-for-purpose Garda fleet will continue under the capital programme, under which a further €46 million has been allocated for Garda vehicles over the lifetime of the plan. That will facilitate what is needed in communities today, which is additional funding for Garda surveillance, special operations and targeted intelligence-led policing.

That will be accompanied by the continued renewal of Garda personnel with 600 new gardaí to be recruited next year on top of the 550 by the end of this year. The totality of this investment will ensure that the Garda has the necessary tools and manpower to tackle the scourge of highly mobile gangs and to disrupt crime, particularly burglaries in rural and urban areas.

I welcome the fact the Minister has allocated additional money to purchase 260 vehicles. They are welcome and needed.

We should go further in many areas that we have previously discussed, such as recruitment, mandatory sentencing and a camera network along our motorways and at motorway junctions.

The Minister and I have a different perspective on Garda stations. The Government feels it made right decision in closing 139 Garda stations. Everybody else is on the other side of the argument, including the political establishment, community-based organisations, the IFA, members of An Garda Síochána, the GRA and the AGSI. They all feel it was the wrong decision to remove the presence of An Garda Síochána from many communities. In my constituency in Doon, County Limerick, a man died.

The proof that it was the wrong decision, along with everything else, is the fact that we have a detection rate of 13% in respect of burglaries. I know the Government will be very slow to back down on this, but in order to move the debate on and to bring a degree of realism to it, would the Minister not ask the Garda Inspectorate to carry out an impact analysis of the areas where Garda stations were closed to see how the level of policing diminished and crime rates varied arising from that? We were supposed to have an independent An Garda Síochána review of the decision following its implementation. I do not know why that did not happen, but in the absence of that could we please have an independent panel? Could the Minister ask the Garda Inspectorate to consider it?

There is no correlation between the closure of Garda stations and burglary rates. That is the reality of the situation. What we need is what I have outlined, namely, increased Garda visibility and patrol hours, increased mobility and flexibility within an area, resulting in an improved policing service for the public, enhanced co-ordination of Garda activity and more gardaí, as we are providing by recruiting 1,150 extra gardaí.

Fianna Fáil stopped investing in An Garda Síochána in 2009 until it left government, which led to many of the current difficulties. This Government has started the kind of investment that is needed and it will be ongoing, which is what will lead to reduced difficulties and get the best results. On the Deputy's figures on burglaries being solved, if he examines Operation Fiacla he will find the numbers of people arrested and charged are not the percentages he quoted.

It is outrageous for the Minister to say in the House that there is no correlation between the closure of Garda stations and crime in particular areas. That is not what communities are telling us. I have attended about 40 public meetings around Ireland and a common message came from all of them, namely, that people want the presence of An Garda Síochána in their communities, which can be provided when there is a base and presence in an area. None of the compensatory follow-up actions promised by the Minister's predecessor, such as Garda clinics or the roll-out of mobile Garda services, was ever followed through on.

People need reassurance and to know that a member of An Garda Síochána is in the community. Unfortunately, that is not happening. The Government pointed to decisions taken in 2009. We know the facts of what happened then. It was this Government which kept the moratorium in place, while at the same time recruiting into the Defence Forces and other parts of the Civil Service and public service. Could we have an honest referee regarding this? Could the Minister ask the Garda Inspectorate to carry out an impact analysis of the areas to which I referred? It is a reasonable request which should be considered.

Fianna Fáil stopped investing in recruiting gardaí, which has led to the lack of a visible presence in urban and rural communities. It is as a result of the decisions it took that the investment in An Garda Síochána stopped. We are now restarting it, and that is how visible policing will return to urban and rural communities.

The Government recruited to the Defence Forces.

We are determined to tackle rural and urban crime. We have to ensure that the resources on the front line and the necessary legislation are in place. I am bringing in the strongest legislation there has ever been - it is currently before the House - on burglaries because they are heinous crimes and need to be dealt with effectively. That legislation will ensure repeat offenders will have difficulty in getting bail and will serve consecutive rather than shorter sentences, which is what is happening at the current time. The Judiciary will have the legislation in place to allow that to happen, which is extremely important.

The mobile resources gardaí need, the cars and the vehicles and the numbers, will be there. A total of 61,000 extra hours have been made available. They are now in use at the same time as these other initiatives. That is what is going to make a difference in tackling urban and rural crime.

Garda Investigations

Mick Wallace


107. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality for an update on the independent review mechanism; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35255/15]

I heard the Minister's reply to Deputy Collins on this issue. As she knows, more than 200 of these cases came through Justice4All and we have met these people. To date, how this has all been handled has been an abysmal disappointment for them. The Minister described this as a totally objective process. By any international standards I do not know how she has the neck to describe it so.

I can describe it as independent because it is independent. It is an independent review mechanism carried out by independent lawyers who are given access to the data they require and to the material submitted by the complainants. In more than 200 cases extra material has been given by the complainants. The material has been assessed and a recommendation has been made. The summary of this recommendation which came to me was overseen by a judge. I call this independent. I have accepted the recommendations in all the cases.

It is not a statutory investigation. It is not a commission of investigation. It was never intended to be a commission of investigation. It is an assessment of complaints, many of which go back 30, 20 and ten years, and some are more recent. They have been through a variety of assessments by gardaí, the District Court, the Circuit Court right up to the Supreme Court. They have examined the papers to see if they can recommend any particular further action to me in my role as Minister which would help the complainants and bring closure for them, because obviously many of these cases involve appalling events for the families concerned. If there is any further action I can take to help them based on the recommendations I receive from the independent review mechanism, I will do that.

What the Minister describes as an independent panel was hand-picked with no terms of reference. It is outrageous to call it independent. There is no opportunity for people to engage and no feedback. There is no recourse to appeal. One case was referred by the Taoiseach to the independent review mechanism. This involved the shooting of a civilian, where the Garda who witnessed it was told to say he was not there. The person involved has not even been asked about the shooting. How will the panel make a recommendation if it has not even asked a question? I do not understand this part. Initially, the Minister said this would be returned in September 2014 but it has dragged on for another 13 months with bugger all satisfaction. It does not look as if the Minister has a political appetite for dealing properly with these cases. The people are bitterly disappointed with how it has been handled.

The Deputy is familiar with many of these cases and knows the complexities involved and the appalling experience which many people have had. We are trying to see whether there is any further remedy which could be made available to the people who have submitted these complaints. This is the task this group of independent professional lawyers has been asked to assess. This is the reality of the situation. The Deputy quoted an individual case. Every complainant has had the opportunity to give the details. I am sure the complainant about whom the Deputy spoke has had the opportunity to give the full details of his complaint to the independent review mechanism. I would be very surprised if people did not give to the independent review mechanism the full details they have at their disposal. In more than 200 cases people have given further information, and where those conducting the independent assessment have wanted further information from the Garda or the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, in all cases it has been complied with by An Garda Síochána. There is no instance of information being refused by An Garda Síochána to the independent review mechanism. This is the fact of the situation. I accept the point that it will be very difficult for many people to find resolution.

If there is a mechanism open to me and it is recommended by the independent review mechanism, in all instances I will accept the recommendation, whatever it is.

I thought the Deputy had finished but we are over time anyway.

We all admit that some of the cases were clearly of a more serious nature than others. It would not have been rocket science for people to have gone through them quickly early in the process to pick out the most serious in order that they could have been put before a commission of investigation. They could even have been included with the examination of the Maurice McCabe issue. Perhaps it is planned to do that down the road but given that it is almost a year and a half since this was set up, it is difficult to see where the Minister is going with it. It is difficult to see where people can possibly find any solace at all in how the process has been handled. Does the Minister have any concept of how disappointed these people are? It beggars belief how this has been handled.

The Deputy mentions doing a quick assessment but if I had asked the independent review panel to do that, we would have a series of different questions. It has taken every case on equal merit and assessed them. As the Deputy well knows, once we start to assess any of these cases, different factors emerge. The Deputy mentioned that we could say what is serious and what is not, but that emerges in the course of the 300 overall assessments. The bottom line is that detailed time and attention has been given to every case. Where there is the possibility of further-----

How did the Government think it would be finished in September 2014?

The Minister, without interruption.

The Government decided to establish an independent body because more than 300 cases were referred. As the Government decided to accept all the referred cases, it has led to a longer period for consideration, as I explained before. We were right to take that time. The process is coming to a conclusion and I will publish a full report on all the detail, including the percentage of cases where there were recommendations and the range of those recommendations. If there is a request for a commission of investigation into the cases, I will establish one.