Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (880)

Jim O'Callaghan


880. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the supports available to gardaí in cases in which they suffer from mental health difficulties related to disciplinary and or criminal investigations in which they are a suspect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33112/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána including the provision of employee welfare supports.

I am assured by the Garda Commissioner that An Garda Síochána is committed to ensuring that members exposed to workplace stress receive the appropriate organisational response and in that regard there are a variety of supports in place for Garda members.

The Garda Employee Assistance Service is available to members of An Garda Síochána and supports them in managing and resolving personal and work-related difficulties. All employee assistance officers, and in the region of 250 of the peer supporters, are trained in critical incident stress management which is an intervention designed to prevent or mitigate psychological reactions to a critical incident. This intervention is delivered with the support of a mental health professional when required. Where necessary the services of the Occupational Health Department, headed by the Chief Medical Officer of An Garda Síochána, are made available to assist Garda personnel deal with stressful and extremely difficult situations in the workplace. This Service is staffed by a team of specialist occupational healthcare professionals supported by an administration team. The Service is dedicated to supporting the employees of An Garda Síochána to maintain their health and well-being in order to carry out their duties safely and effectively.

A 24/7, 365 day Independent Helpline and Counselling Service is available to all staff within An Garda Síochána. This service is available for both work and personal difficulties. The service is not mandatory and is self-referral. Each member of the organisation may avail of six free sessions of counselling per year and an additional two will be provided if clinically approved. All appointments and consultants are arranged directly between the Service Provider and the staff member.

Since 1994 a Peer Supporter Programme has been in operation within An Garda Síochána to help Gardaí cope with the effect of a traumatic incident in the workplace. I am informed that the programme has been found to be very helpful in assisting Garda members in the aftermath of a traumatic incident. The programme is delivered by over 850 Garda who are trained as peer supporters and is available in all Garda Districts to assist colleagues in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic incident. Following such an incident, a peer supporter will contact the members concerned and offer support. In the event that the peer supporter deems it appropriate, they may refer the member to the Garda Employee Assistance Service.

With regard to the supports available to Gardaí in the specific instance referred to the Deputy, I have requested a report from the Commissioner on this matter and I will revert when it is to hand.