That Dáil Éireann, noting that the Government on 7th December, 2021, nominated Judge Rory MacCabe for appointment by the President as a member of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and as its chairperson, recommends, pursuant to section 65(1)(b) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, that Judge Rory MacCabe be appointed by the President as a member and as chairperson of the Commission.
The appointment of members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, is governed by the provisions of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, which requires the Government to be satisfied a person to be nominated for appointment has the appropriate experience, qualifications, training or expertise for appointment. The Act also provides that a member of the ombudsman commission is appointed by the President following his or her nomination by the Government and the passage of resolutions by both Houses of the Oireachtas recommending his or her appointment. In this regard, at its meeting on 7 December 2021, the Government nominated Judge Rory MacCabe. I am pleased to recommend formally to the House that Members approve Judge MacCabe for appointment by the President to be a member and the chair of the ombudsman commission.
The need for this appointment arises from the expiry of the terms of office on 11 December of the former chair of the ombudsman commission, Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring. I express the Government's sincere appreciation of the contributions Ms Justice Ring has made to GSOC's important and complex work. As chair of the ombudsman commission, Ms Justice Ring provided superb leadership and vision. I wish her well in the future as she returns to her judicial duties in the High Court.
The Government decided in September to request the Attorney General to ask the Chief Justice to seek expressions of interest from serving and retired judges of the Superior Courts in the role. A selection committee was formed to review the applications. The selection committee comprised Mr. Garrett Sheehan, who was the chair, Ms Marie Cross, formerly of Department of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Paul Gallagher, our Attorney General. As there were no successful applications, the selection committee then subsequently accepted expressions of interest from judges of the District and Circuit Courts. Judge MacCabe was recommended as an excellent candidate.
In accordance with section 66(1) of the Act, a member of the ombudsman commission holds office for a period exceeding three years but not exceeding six years. The Government has agreed that Judge MacCabe would be appointed to the ombudsman commission for the minimum period provided for under the Act of three years or such shorter term as may result from the enactment of legislation providing for the restructuring of the ombudsman commission; namely, the forthcoming policing, security and community safety Bill.
In addition, in light of the significance of the role and the recent precedent, approval was also sought and granted by the Government to nominate Judge MacCabe to the High Court. Section 65(5) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, provides that a person who holds judicial office in a superior court may, without relinquishing that office, be appointed as the chairperson of the commission, but unless otherwise provided for in the terms of the appointment they shall not be required to carry out duties under statute as the holder of that judicial office. Section 65(6) gives effect to Schedule 4 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, which provides that if an ordinary judge of the High Court is appointed to GSOC the number of High Court judges otherwise provided for under enactment may be exceeded by one.
GSOC has played, and will continue to play, a critical role in the overall architecture of policing in this State. Its independence is the guarantee to the public that complaints against members of An Garda Síochána will be investigated without fear or favour. Its three key operational principles of inquiry, independence and impartiality are the hallmarks of a policing oversight organisation of which we can be justifiably proud and which is vital in an advanced democracy such as we are fortunate to inhabit.
Judge MacCabe is currently a sitting Circuit Court judge. He was appointed to the Circuit Court in 2007 and for the last ten years he has been serving on the western circuit where the work is almost exclusively indictable crime. He was admitted to the inner Bar in 1999; prior to that he worked as a civil servant in a variety of important roles, mainly in the Department of the Taoiseach. During his time as a senior counsel he was a member of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. He has also served on the board of the Courts Service. Judge MacCabe's very considerable experience as a practitioner, as a judge in criminal law, and of criminal trials and the work of An Garda Síochána will be of great benefit to the complex and challenging work of the ombudsman commission.
This appointment will provide for authoritative and independent leadership of an important organisation while it prepares to transition to a new organisational structure under the policing, security and community safety Bill. This is a time of change for GSOC, and Judge MacCabe will now lead that change along with the other commissioners, Hugh Hume and Emily Logan, and with the management and staff of GSOC. I am sure the House will agree it is vital that the public has deep confidence in An Garda Síochána and its system of oversight, of which the ombudsman commission is a key component. I believe that the considerable skills and experience of Judge MacCabe will serve to enhance the public's existing confidence in GSOC's role.
Subject to the agreement of both Houses, I intend to make arrangements for the President to appoint Judge MacCabe as soon as practicable. On behalf of the Government, I am pleased to commend the motion to the House.