Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2015: Report Stage (Resumed)

Debate resumed on amendment No. 3:
In page 7, line 15, to delete "Minister" and substitute "the Ombudsman Commission, which will consult a designated Judge of the High Court who will act as an independent arbiter".
(Deputy Mick Wallace)

Deputy Mac Lochlainn, who is not present, was in possession.

I understand the Deputy had concluded his contribution when the debate adjourned yesterday evening. If I may, I will respond to the amendment, on which Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, who are present, also made contributions.

Deputies Daly and Wallace raised concerns about the grouping of amendments. I do not propose to restate what I said yesterday, other than to point out that groupings are a matter for the Bills Office. The group we are discussing consists of amendments Nos. 3 to 6, inclusive, 81 to 86, inclusive, and 88 and 102, in the names of Deputies Wallace, Clare Daly and Mac Lochlainn.

The role of the policing authority will be to oversee the performance by An Garda Síochána of its policing services functions. The amendments in the names of Deputies Daly and Wallace would assign to GSOC the functions of the Government in relation to national security. Deputies will be aware that the core function of GSOC is to investigate complaints made against members of An Garda Síochána and that it has no oversight function in relation to national security. Indeed, there is a general consensus in the House that the authority should not have such a function in any event. The amendments would give rise to an unusual set of reporting arrangements whereby the Garda Commissioner would, among other things, account fully to GSOC in relation to security services through the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality. It is difficult to understand how this would work in practice.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn's amendments would have the effect of removing the role of the Minister in determining whether a matter relates to State security. The Minister has carefully considered the amendments and, given that the security of the State is a priority function of the Government, is of the view that the task of deciding whether a matter relates to policing or security should be undertaken by the Minister of the day in his or her capacity as a member of the Government. Deputy Mac Lochlainn disagreed yesterday, but that is the view of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald. Before making any decision as to whether a matter involves policing or security, a Minister will be required to act impartially. I understand that the approach adopted in the Bill is in line with similar arrangements in Northern Ireland in relation to security matters. For example, the Chief Constable may refer to the Secretary of State a requirement to submit a report to the Northern Ireland Policing Board if it appears to the Chief Constable that a report in compliance with the requirement would contain information which ought not to be disclosed in the interests of national security. The Secretary of State may then modify or, in fact, set aside the requirement. The Minister believes the arrangements proposed in the Bill are appropriate and she asks the Deputies not to press the amendments.

An Garda Síochána is perhaps unique. I am not sure if it is the only one, but it is one of the few police services in the world that retains security and policing responsibilities. To compare it with the North is not to make an exact comparison. There are a number of intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, that operate internally and externally from Whitehall and on the banks of the Thames. One of our concerns in this State has been to separate politics from policing as much as we can. We want the police to become a police service with genuinely independent oversight rather than a police force. We want an independent member of the Judiciary who can look at the definition of "security" in the Act, which at least is there and as such is welcome albeit we have some disagreements on it, and adjudicate as recommended by the Chief Justice. This is not a Sinn Féin proposal. It was Mr. Conor Brady who planted the seed for me. It is an eminently sensible proposal and a good and acceptable solution. Nobody would challenge the independence of a judge and, on most occasions, my guess is that the independent member of the Judiciary would agree with An Garda Síochána's assessment. That is my guess and, as such, I do not see the problem.

Historically, the Department of Justice and Equality has failed, as proven in the recent report, substantially in its oversight role. Notwithstanding the fact that the Minister and the Department have failed to fulfil the responsibilities of their oversight of An Garda Síochána, they wish to retain that function. I am disappointed that the Minister was there that day in the company of Mr. Conor Brady and Dr. Vicky Conway, two people who are very respected for their analysis of the changes required, but takes this view. While the Garda Commissioner gave an impressive presentation yesterday, that presentation is undermined by the politicians and departmental officials who insist on retaining control. I do not see any viable reason for the Government to refuse to accept the amendment which is based on an idea put forward by Conor Brady. Everyone in the room thought it was a good idea, including the Law Society, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and even the Minister. Obviously, someone in the Department got in her ear and said "You don't want to let this happen". That is not the change we need.

I find it a bit confusing that amendment No. 102 has been grouped with these amendments. Amendment No. 102 comes under Part 5 of the Bill on accountability. In amendment No. 102, we propose that the Garda Commissioner shall account fully to the authority through the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality on any aspect of his or her relevant functions relating to policing issues and account fully to GSOC in relation to security issues. As a result of the manner in which the amendments have been grouped, we are pushed for speaking time on the different elements.

Our policing Bill, introduced two years ago and again last year, proposed to amend section 40 to make the Commissioner accountable to the board and the Government through the Minister. Our Bill sought to delete the provision in section 40(2) which places a duty on the Garda Commissioner to provide any document in the power or possession of An Garda Síochána on request by the Secretary General, including witness statements and Garda records. Our Bill sought to narrow the duty of the Commissioner to keep the Minister informed under section 41 by removing (b), (c) and (d) and leaving only a duty in relation to peace and public order, protection of life and property and security of the State and by creating a duty to keep the board fully informed of any significant development which might reasonably be expected to affect public confidence in the Garda and any other matters that should be brought to the attention of the board. We also sought to amend section 41 to allow both the board and the Minister to request a report from the Garda Commissioner and section 42 to give both the board and the Minister the power to initiate a special inquiry.

It is ironic that the Minister of State refers to our amendments as confusing when one of the key problems with the Government's Bill is that it itself is confusing. The Bill envisages a model where there is an equal division of accountability between the security and policing work of An Garda Síochána. Accountability is directly to the Minister in relation to security while in relation to policing, An Garda Síochána is sometimes accountable to the Minister, sometimes to the authority, sometimes to both and sometimes to the authority which is thereafter accountable to the Minister. One of our key points is that this confused model will not work and will result in future blame games similar to the ones which arose around the GSOC controversy.

There is nothing wrong with our proposal to give GSOC a role in deciding these matters. There is no unified body that says it should not have that type of input. The IHREC, the Government's own statutory body on human rights, has specifically expressed the view that there is no difficulty with issues of national security policing being examined by GSOC or overseen by the authority itself where national security policing impacts on the fundamental rights of individuals. We made the point last night that the authority could also have a liaison role with any Oireachtas committee which has competence for national security policing review as per the IHREC recommendation.

The IHREC has stated that it is a requirement of the European Court of Human Rights that we have an independent body to consider this matter, but we will still not have one at the end of this process. The purpose of our amendments is to make improvements in this regard, but that is difficult when they are grouped together despite being nuanced and relating to various aspects of the Bill.

Given the trooping up and down the country trying to frighten the people of rural Ireland about policing levels, it has been disappointing to sit through this debate for more than an hour last night and again today with no member of Fianna Fáil present. It is the party that closed the academy at Templemore and reduced Garda numbers. Since this is a serious issue, it is disappointing that there has been no representation from the largest Opposition party for such a prolonged period. It seems to be keeping its commentary for the public airwaves and public meetings instead of engaging in the Chamber today.

I have outlined the rationale for the non-acceptance of the Deputies' amendments. To be of further assistance, I will draw their attention to provisions in the Bill that are designed to promote a culture of co-operation and respect between the authority and the Garda, thereby minimising some of the Deputies' concerns about the potential for disagreement.

Section 24 amends the current functions of the Garda Commissioner to place an obligation on her or him to assist and co-operate with the authority in order to facilitate the performance of its functions under the Bill. Section 44 inserts a new section 62I into the principal Act that places an obligation on the authority to have regard to the importance of the Garda's functions concerning security services. Regarding the Deputies' comments about clarity in the definition of "security services", the expectation is that the likelihood of any dispute between the parties as to whether a matter is one of security will be minimal.

Notwithstanding the scale of the UK, there are examples in Northern Ireland and Scotland of matters being referred to the State Secretary and the Minister, respectively, where there are disagreements between police forces and their oversight bodies.

We must not lose sight of the fact that the role envisaged for the Minister will preserve her accountability for policing matters to this House. Deputies referenced the engagement between the Minister and her Department. She fully supports all of the amendments-----

All of the amendments? That is great.

Sorry, I meant, all of the elements. There are two Government amendments as well, and she certainly supports those.

I thought for a moment that the Minister was supporting ours.

No. There is full agreement between her and her officials on this significant, reforming and long overdue legislation, which will improve trust and co-operation between the oversight bodies and the Garda.

The Minister of State cannot ignore the fact that many of the experts are not impressed with what could have been something good. I have gone through a number of the provisions that were in our Bills last year and the year before. These amendments are a serious watering down of those. We did not just invent them. We consulted everyone, anyone and anything involved in policing in Ireland and abroad.

The Minister of State pointed out a number of changes that he viewed as positive. I will mainly discuss section 5 on accountability, which encompasses our amendment and amendment No. 102, but there is no change to section 40:

... which sets out that the Garda Commissioner shall account fully to the Government and Minister through the Secretary General for any aspect of his or her functions, including the duty to provide any document. Clearly, the Commissioner remains accountable to the Minister and Government only. The new Bill just adds a section setting out that the Commissioner shall report to the authority with regard to policing services to facilitate the performance by the authority of its functions under this Act and extends the duty of [the] Commissioner to provide documents to the authority also. The wide breadth of communication between Minister and Commissioner remains under section 41 and a clause is added to set out that if and in so far as a report by the Commissioner to the Minister relates to policing services, the Minister shall inform the authority of those matters. The Minister does not even have to provide the authority with a copy of the report. Furthermore, there is no comparable duty on the Commissioner inserted to keep the authority informed on significant developments relating to policing, for example, peace and public order, but only to keep the authority informed of matters relevant to the authority's functions.

The authority may request a report from the Commissioner on policing and may publish all or part of it.

Section 42 remains the same, in that only the Minister can appoint a person to set up a special inquiry, for example, Ms Emily Logan in the case of the Roma children, but the Minister must consult the authority first. The authority can request that a special inquiry be set up, but the Minister can refuse. Even if she accedes to the authority's request, the report of that inquiry goes to her and not the authority. The Minister sets the inquiry's terms of reference and, if it relates to policing services, has a duty to consult the authority. Furthermore, section 42 has been amended to allow whoever is conducting the inquiry to question members of the authority as well as the Garda during the course of the inquiry.

The new Bill amends section 44 to provide that the audit committee is appointed by the authority and is to provide copies of its report to the Minister and the authority. Section 46 of the original Act is amended so that the annual policing report will be submitted by the Commissioner to the authority, not the Minister, and that the authority shall supply a copy of that report to the Minister. In November, the heads of the Bill proposed that section 40 be amended to make the Garda Commissioner fully accountable to the authority for policing matters and to the Government for security matters, but the legislation as published does not follow through on this. The Commissioner remains accountable to the Government only, just as it was under the 2005 Act, with an added lesser duty on the Commissioner to report to the authority in order for it to fulfil its functions under the Bill. This is a major disappointment. The Minister of State can claim that the Government received legal advice on this, that or the other and that there may be constitutional problems but, as Deputy Clare Daly stated yesterday, if constitutional problems impede us in putting in place an independent policing authority, we should address them instead of deciding that we cannot do something.

If the authority is not being asked to hold the commissioner to account, who remains accountable to the Government and the Minister, what is the point in having an authority at all? The heads proposed that section 41 regarding the Commissioner's duty to keep the Government informed on a wide variety of issues be divided, in that the duty of the Commissioner in policing issues would be owed to the authority while her duty in security of State issues would be owed to the Minister. However, the Government has rowed back on this proposal, as the published legislation does not change the position under the 2005 Act, in that the Commissioner's duty is to keep the Minister informed on both sets of issues. The heads set out that only the authority could request a report from the Commissioner on a specific aspect of policing. This provision has also been rescinded and the Minister still possesses the power to request such a report without even being obliged to share it with the authority.

With regard to the management of the audit committee and the accountable role of the Commissioner, a role in respect of which Professor Dermot Walsh was concerned that the published legislation has gone further than the heads, the Minister appears to divest herself of responsibility.

No change is proposed to section 47 to provide the authority with crime statistics. Surely crime statistics should be reported to the authority and not the Minister, or at least to both. It will be difficult for the authority to deal with police issues if it is not entitled to all the statistical data available.

There is no change to section 40 regarding the direct accountability of the Government, including the Minister, as I mentioned before, nor is there a change to subsection 40(2) and the all-encompassing duty of the Commissioner to provide any document or statement in the possession of a garda that the Minister requests. Professor Walsh has called this an "alarming provision".

The Bill, as published, rows back on a commitment in the heads to make the Garda Commissioner fully accountable to the board alone regarding policing matters. As in the 2005 Act, the Commissioner is to remain solely accountable to the Minister and Government. This is a fundamental change to the proposal in the heads. If the authority is not being asked to hold the Commissioner to account and if the Commissioner remains lawfully accountable to the Government and Minister, we will not have the authority-----

I apologise for interrupting the Deputy. I understand he has gone way beyond the scope of the amendment.

Amendment No. 102 concerns the accountability section under Part 5. I am talking about accountability and do not understand how that could not be relevant. It is part of it.

The Commissioner's duty to provide an update regarding policing in the State remains owed to the Minister, not the board. Again, this is in contrast with what was proposed in the heads. Recently, policing plans published by the Garda Commissioner before the final legislation was even published refer to the Garda Commissioner looking forward to working with the new authority as part of a collaborative approach. Clearly, this indicates the Garda Commissioner does not expect to be accountable to the authority and that it is more a case of working alongside it. If the authority is to have any meaning, the Commissioner will have to be accountable to it. If the authority does not have this status, it will be very weak.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission's recommendations are that the authority directly supervise the functioning of the Garda Commissioner's office and the discharge of functions, including the supervision of national security and policing, that the authority discipline, appoint and dismiss senior gardaí, including the Commissioner, that senior gardaí, including the Commissioner, be fully accountable solely to the authority, and that the authority be entitled to issue policy directives to An Garda Síochána. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties also recommended that the Commissioner be accountable to the authority in the performance of his or her functions. Clearly, the Commissioner will not be accountable to this new body, and the new body will not have the teeth it would require if it were ever to be an independent policing authority. The arrangement leaves too much to be desired. The Government can flag it as massive reform and a great step forward, but it does not bear close examination. It just does not stand up to scrutiny. We are not alone in believing this. It is unfortunate that people such as Dr. Vicky Conway and Professor Dermot Walsh were not asked by the Department how they would proceed. Those individuals are very qualified and very well-informed and they have examined international best practice. They have a lot to say on how the policing authority should be structured. It is a missed opportunity that they were not engaged.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 33; Níl, 59.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and John Lyons.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 4 has already been discussed with amendment No. 3.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 7, line 15, to delete “the Minister” and substitute “a member of the judiciary, as delegated by the Chief Justice”.

Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 36; Níl, 59.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and John Lyons.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, to delete lines 16 and 17 and substitute the following:

“(4) The determination by the Ombudsman Commission in consultation with a designated Judge of the question or dispute referred to them under subsection (3) shall be subject to appeal through the Courts”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 35; Níl, 62.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and John Lyons.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 7, line 16, to delete “the Minister” and substitute “a member of the judiciary”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 35; Níl, 64.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J..
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and John Lyons.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 7, to delete lines 28 to 30 and substitute the following:

"(b) the principle that effective and efficient policing is dependent on the confidence, support, engagement and cooperation of local communities and every member of the Garda Síochána or member of the civilian staff of the Garda Síochána should, in carrying out his or her functions—

(i) act professionally, ethically and with integrity,

(ii) carry out his or her functions with the aim of securing the support of, and acting in cooperation with, the local community,

and

(iii) be guided by the code of ethics under section 17 (Code of Ethics).".".

The amendment deals with the section on policing principles, which should be a cornerstone of the legislation. We see this very much in the context of our belief that the legislation, rather than being a genuinely reforming document, was a reaction in the midst of the growing outcry and emerging Garda crisis which has occurred over the past year or two. This brought the Government to recognise reluctantly the need for reform, but it has produced legislation which falls far short.

This is very much about setting the goal upfront regarding transforming a police force into a modern police service. The amendment looks at beefing up the section with the principle that effective and efficient policing would be dependent on the confidence, support, engagement and co-operation of local communities, and that every member of the Garda Síochána or member of the civilian staff of the Garda Síochána should, in carrying out his or her functions, act professionally, ethically and with integrity with the aim of securing the support of, and acting in co-operation with, the local community, and be guided by a code of ethics.

On one level, one might say this is ABC stuff and fairly straightforward, but in actual fact it is a million miles away from the manner in which An Garda Síochána has been operating, has been directed to be operated and has been perceived to operate over the past period of time. Having the support of the community and policing by consent is absolutely vital. One only has to look at the policing of the anti-water charges protests to realise, and a number of senior gardaí in the communities involved have verified to us, that the Garda has been asked to direct resources to deal with citizens engaged in protest action, often in communities where the police have been trying to build up a rapport and a relationship, and has acted in a heavy-handed way, curtailing the right to protest, which has led to a significant cost and has undermined the integrity of gardaí and how they are viewed locally.

The code of ethics part of the legislation is absolutely critical, and we will deal with it later in the course of the debate. The inclusion of a code of ethics is absolutely vital, but the way in which the Government has put it forward means it has lost all its teeth because there will be no sanction if it is breached. What is the point of having a code of ethics with no penalties if it is broken? It means the whole thing is absolutely and utterly toothless. There is a requirement already in law, under the 2005 Act, requiring the establishment of a code of ethics. We know that neither the Minister nor any of her predecessors opted to exercise this and bring in a code of ethics. Where it was to be there, the idea of breaching it was in secondary legislation and regulation. We very much wanted to see this at the heart of the Bill, but there is no reference in the Act to the publication of the code of ethics. The provision included in the Bill is weaker than what was in the 2005 Act, even though nobody initiated or introduced what was in the 2005 Act. What the measure in the 2005 Act potentially allowed was stronger than what is proposed in the Bill, which is a watering down.

In Northern Ireland the code of ethics is substantially stronger. It is a standard built into every operation of the PSNI and a standard against which it is measured. Misconduct is investigated against the standard and a key part of it is a focus on human rights compliance and assessing the impact on human rights, including in the annual report. Unless we have this we will not have policing by consent or the support of the community. Other than this, it is total lip service, to be honest. We need to take cognisance of what the experts say in this regard. The Government's removal of section 123(2)(b) of the 2005 Act, relating to the Minister being able to introduce disciplinary sanction for a breach of ethics, is an enormous row back. It is a little bit ironic because the Government was making a major play about the code of ethics finally being introduced, but what is being introduced is far weaker than what was in the 2005 Act. The issue is whether the Government wants a scenario whereby human rights, ethical behaviour and the Garda seeing itself as being very much the servant of the population is built in at the very start of our policing principles. This is what is at stake in this, which is why we feel it is incredibly important to push it at this stage.

Debate adjourned.