Garda Síochána (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2014: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 3, to delete lines 21 to 23 and substitute the following:

"Amendment of section 84 of Principal Act

4. Section 84 of the Principal Act is amended by substituting the following for subsection (1):

"(1) Subject to subsection (1A), a complaint must be made within the period of 1 year beginning on the date of the conduct giving rise to the complaint or within any extension of that period allowed under subsection (2).

(1A) Where the conduct giving rise to the complaint would, if substantiated, constitute an offence by the member of the Garda Síochána, a complaint must be made within the period of 2 years beginning on the date of the said conduct or within any extension of that period allowed under subsection (2).".".

The amendment of section 84 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to extend the time in which a complaint must be made from six to 12 months is a welcome one, which brings this jurisdiction into line with Northern Ireland. This amendment proposes to allow this period to be extended to two years in circumstances where the conduct giving rise to the complaint would, if substantiated, constitute an offence. It is intended that this change will reflect the gravity and proportionality in respect of the relevant occurrence and provide access to justice for citizens in such circumstances. A statute of limitations does not apply to indictable offences committed by a citizen in the normal course and persons may be charged at any time if there are reasonable grounds to suspect they have committed an offence.

While the decision to extend the period within which a complaint must be made from six months to one year is welcome, it is not sufficient. Even the period of two years prescribed in our amendment will not be adequate in some instances. Perhaps we should consider writing into the legislation a series of special circumstances for which the deadline could be extended beyond two years. The current proposal is to extend the deadline to two years for cases that involve the circumstances outlined by Deputy Wallace.

We have encountered many cases involving people who did not realise the role gardaí had played in events that impacted on their lives. The role of gardaí may only come to light more than two years after a tragedy, for example. In such circumstances, a person who takes a case to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission will be told it is too late to have a complaint investigated.

We are discussing an oversight body or complaints board for the Garda Síochána. This week, I dealt with a case involving a couple of individuals in Galway who were involved in a property deal in Romania with two gardaí. According to the individuals in question, the gardaí in question embezzled funds of approximately €500,000. They reported the crime to the immediate superior of the gardaí, the then Chief Superintendent Ó Cualáin who has since been promoted to the position of acting Deputy Commissioner. In correspondence sent to the then chief superintendent they highlighted their allegation that gardaí had been involved in what was effectively a case of embezzlement, which is a very serious crime. They had information to show that Garda fax machines were used in certain transactions. The chief superintendent indicated the complaint would be investigated but was subsequently moved to another area. When another chief superintendent was appointed, the individuals in question chased up the case but did not get anywhere. Having given the Garda the option of investigating the matter internally, the individuals found that their complaint was not listened to and they made a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. GSOC decided it could not deal with the case because it was four years old, which is not good enough.

Many of the cases that come to our attention are heartbreaking and involve people who are desperately seeking an acknowledgement of a wrong that has been done to them. Time limits should not apply in such scenarios. We must be flexible and show an understanding that some people are knocked back by an event to such an extent that they cannot take a complaint immediately and need more time. The one-year time limit is inadequate. Two years would be a preferable timeframe in the serious circumstances Deputy Wallace outlined.

I draw the attention of Deputies to the fact that they should not name people who are not able to defend themselves.

I support the amendment. As we discussed last night, a significant number of citizens do not have confidence that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has the capacity or power to fully investigate matters about which they are concerned. While certain aspects of the legislation are encouraging and welcome, the new powers conferred on GSOC are wholly inadequate. The amendment fits into the idea of a new beginning in that it would give people more time to submit a complaint to GSOC. It also has an element of natural justice built into it. Ultimately, complaints are either valid or invalid.

As the Deputies noted, we are increasing the period within which a complaint may be made to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission from six months to one year. I thank speakers who welcomed this change.

The purpose of the amendment is to extend the time limit from one year with a proviso that it can be set at two years for complaints about behaviour that would constitute an offence. I considered the six month limit to be too short and decided to double it to one year to give people who may wish to make a complaint a reasonable period to do so, rather than requiring them to do so immediately after an event occurs.

Section 4 is concerned with the general time limit for making a complaint to GSOC. A question arises as to what is a reasonable period within which someone must make a complaint. I decided that doubling the ordinary time limit for making a complaint from six to 12 months was the best approach at this point. It strikes a good balance in terms of addressing the issues I and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission would have to take into account. If the period were to be extended by another year, it would give rise to another tier of complaints. I will explain what I mean by that comment in a moment.

It is important to note that in extending the time limit from six months to one year, I have not changed section 84(2) of the 2005 Act which permits the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to extend the time limit in respect of any complaint when it considers there are good reasons for doing so. GSOC makes completely independent decisions. If a case is taken outside the time limit, it is not required to refuse to investigate it and may decide the case is sufficiently serious to warrant it taking a decision not to be restricted by the time limit, which is set at one year in the Bill. Section 84(2) will remain exactly as it is, which means GSOC has flexibility, irrespective of when an incident took place. The commission makes its decisions independently.

I will make available to Deputies information on the number of cases in which the time limit has been a factor. I will keep the position under review to ascertain whether the time limit continues to be a matter of concern and the main reason for ruling out cases. As matters stand, I am increasing the time limit from six months to one year and have left untouched section 84(2), which gives the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission full power to take a case at any point. In addition, the Minister may refer specific cases to GSOC for examination. The Bill provides for a workable framework within which complaints against members of the Garda Síochána can be addressed.

Deputies should not endlessly repeat the claim that members of the public do not have confidence in the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. The evidence shows that the public is making complaints. I fully accept that Deputies have encountered cases in which people are not satisfied, have other points to make or believe their case may warrant further investigation. In many cases, however, the individuals concerned are unhappy with other aspects of the criminal justice system, for example, the outcome of a court case or their experience in respect of a decision made by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

I expect that it is the goal of every Deputy to ensure we have a truly independent system for investigating complaints, one which is supported in doing its work. It must also be understood by An Garda Síochána that this body must be able to do its work and the Garda must co-operate with it effectively in terms of timeframes and so forth.

I would have thought the goal of everybody in this House is to ensure we have a system in which people have confidence. GSOC is the body that has to examine complaints and it is evolving all the time. I want to make it better and I know the Deputies do as well. Through the initiatives we are taking in this Bill, I believe we are strengthening GSOC and increasing the confidence the public can have in the fact it is an independent body.

With regard to extending it to two years, this looks as if another layer of bureaucracy is being created but the number of people who would not put in their complaint within one year, and who would do so between one year and two years, would be small. Our experience in talking to people, and having people come to us, has been that while section 84(2) allows GSOC to look at complaints that go outside the time period, those concerned have not had much success in this area. Part of the reason for this is that GSOC probably has too much on its plate. GSOC struggles to do as much as it would like with the resources available to it but it does not have enough staff to deal with all the challenges that face it. This would be an extra challenge. When someone makes a complaint that is 18 months old, there will continue to be tendency not to deal with it because of a lack of resources.

On the issue of public confidence, I can assure the Minister that despite all rumours to the contrary, we want to improve public confidence in GSOC and the Garda, not the other way around. However, if public confidence does not improve in time we will feel we have made a great effort in this regard but without a successful outcome. That is why we are so keen that the legislative changes that come in during the next 12 months are strong. We want to believe that our time was not wasted and that it was used effectively. If it turns out that in 12 months time we are still unhappy people might think that we like to give out simply because we get attention for it. However, if there is an improvement we will feel good that we made some input into it. It will not all be our doing but it would be good to think we had some input and that we did change things for the better. I assure the Minister we are working to a point where the public will be able to have greater confidence not just in An Garda Síochána but also in GSOC.

I would be interested to see the figures on the timescale, which would help to inform us. I believe Deputy Wallace will be shown to be correct that the numbers are relatively small in terms of the difference between one and two years, and I believe it would bring a certain consistency to this. For example, where somebody was to initiate civil proceedings against An Garda Síochána, there is in many instances a two-year period when they can do so, therefore, I do not see why the GSOC issue would not be similar. Perhaps one of the positives out of all the recent controversies is the fact there is now a far greater awareness about GSOC. It is almost a household symbol or abbreviation whereas, even two years ago, no one, including probably half of this House, had heard of it.

While I accept the Minister's point that we should be careful about saying people are not happy about GSOC, I would qualify that by saying that clearly some people are unhappy with it. Those we have encountered who are involved with GSOC are very talented but it must be said that those who are most unhappy with it are working there. They feel it has been constituted in a manner which prevents them from carrying our their duty, which is to be an ombudsman commission for the Garda, because of the many problems that have been highlighted over the past two years.

The problem the members of the public have with GSOC concerns what happens after a complaint is made. We all know it is only in a minority of cases that GSOC would recommend criminal sanction against a garda, so it is proportionately a very small number that gets referred to the DPP. However, even of that small number, practically nothing is actually actioned by the DPP later on. That is the source of people's discontent. When the file in regard to the Kieran Boylan inquiry was sent from GSOC, there was a recommendation to the DPP that criminal prosecutions would take place against gardaí, and the DPP did nothing. That is why people are aggrieved.

The corollary is that, when we are looking at extending the time, it links in with the issue of retired gardaí being excluded from the legislation, because the longer the timescale, the greater the chances that some people might have retired. However, it must be borne in mind that they would have been at one stage members of the Garda. We need to look at that but unfortunately it is not covered by the legislation.

If there are questions of criminal investigation concerning retired gardaí, clearly, that would continue in regard to those gardaí. When it comes to disciplinary procedures a different issue arises because if a person is retired that is not relevant. Clearly, however, if there are issues in regard to a criminal investigation that would be ongoing.

I will give the Deputies as much information as we have in regard to the breakdown of the number of complaints that are excluded because of time. The point is that those in GSOC are satisfied they can appropriately deal with complaints which go further back than 12 months within the scope of section 84(2). I would refer the Deputies again to that section, which states that GSOC has discretion in this regard, although the Deputies are asking how much it uses that discretion and whether cases are falling outside the remit of investigation by GSOC which should be included. Again, that is a critical decision-making area for GSOC. It has the discretion, if a case goes back more than 12 months, to undertake the investigation. It is very important to remember that. The key point might be to ask the question, and to put it in the public arena, as to what are the criteria with regard to the cases that come forward that are beyond the 12 months and which GSOC rejects or accepts. We will see if we can get more information in that regard as I believe it will inform the debate.

In 2014 some 2,224 people used the services of GSOC, which looked at a whole range of allegations. For example, the Garda Commissioner, under section 102(1) of the Garda Síochána Act, referred 60 cases to GSOC. The number of fatalities that were investigated arising from referrals to GSOC under section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act was 14 because, of course, those cases are always investigated by GSOC. Twenty-five files went to the DPP from GSOC last year. From those statistics, we can see it is a very active body.

There is a 19% increase in GSOC's budget this year. However, I take the point that, given the demands of the situation and the work it does that is subject to ongoing review. The extra money was given because it was doing the work on the penalty points. If it is working on specific areas again, we will continue to examine its budget.

I have regular meetings with GSOC. It brings issues to my attention and I work on those issues. In terms of staff being dissatisfied, I would hope that we will try to address any concerns that arise in as satisfactory a manner as possible.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 39; Níl, 63.

  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Barry, Tom.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 8, 12 and 21 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 3, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“5. Section 96(1) of the Principal Act is amended by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (1):

“(1) For the purpose of an investigation under section 95, the Ombudsman Commission—

(a) may require a person who, in its opinion, possesses information or has a document or thing in his or her power or control that is relevant to the investigation, to provide that information, document or thing to the Commission, and

(b) where appropriate, may require that person to attend before the Commission for that purpose,

(c) may require the Garda Commissioner to provide the Commission with access to the Garda Síochána Police Using Leading Systems Effectively (PULSE) computer system, and the person and/or Garda Commissioner shall, subject to subsection (4), comply with the requirement.”.”.

As discussed on Committee Stage, the amendment relates to putting access to PULSE on a statutory basis to empower and bolster the independence of GSOC. As we have spoken about it on many occasions, I do not need to labour the point.

This was one of the recommendations of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. I know that the Minister has put protocols in place. However, the amendment would put it on a statutory footing in order that there would be no doubt about GSOC's access. It is a vital component of what it will require.

I agree fully with the Deputies that the Garda should make everything on PULSE fully available to GSOC which believes it should have such access for the purpose of investigations. I assure them that at this stage it is an aspect of co-operation in An Garda Síochána that is being fully catered for operationally. That is the reality. There were problems in this area for a variety of reasons and protocols were put in place. There definitely were difficulties in the past. The commission has confirmed to my Department that it is satisfied with the level of access to PULSE now being provided. As part of the processes involved, Garda training has been provided for GSOC personnel. If they need further training, it will be made accessible by the Garda or elsewhere. It is better to provide for GSOC access to PULSE within the general framework of co-operation between the Garda and GSOC which is specifically provided for in the 2005 Act.

From a general principle point of view, there has to be co-operation. I understand the Deputies are suggesting it should occur lower down in the system and that we should name PULSE. I think they will understand the difficulties to which giving access to a named information system would give rise. We are examining the ICT requirements of An Garda Síochána and PULSE needs to be developed having regard to crime management. Other technology is also needed, but PULSE will be changed and developed. If we were to name particular types of system within the ICT framework, each time it was changed we would need to change the legislation. I do not think that would be wise. The Deputies will understand naming a particular system such as this in legislation would give rise to many difficulties from a legislative point of view. The key point is that I have been assured by GSOC that it has full access to what it needs on PULSE. That is the operational position. Following the engagement that has taken place, the difficulties have been resolved.

I hear the point the Minister is making about PULSE and that the system may change. However, when Bob Olson and his colleagues from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, as part of their substantial report on the crime investigation carried out over three years, they spoke about the inadequacies of PULSE. They said that ideally they would like to see the replacement of PULSE, which, obviously, is a view that would be supported. We want to see the IT systems of An Garda Síochána being improved as we move forward. That would fit with an upgrade of how it did its business in crime investigation. The difficulty is that the Minister has not made any provision for this in the Estimates which we discussed yesterday.

It could be quite some time before that system is replaced.

While I take on board the Minister's comment that GSOC states it now has access based on protocols, there is concern. It goes back to the debate last night. The ombudsman in the North of Ireland signs the Official Secrets Act in respect of security issues, has the same powers as the police force, is regarded as the same and has the same access as the police. I would like GSOC to have real teeth, the same powers, the same obligations and sign the same statutory declarations as An Garda Síochána. This amounts to full access all the way for it. The best way to do this would be to enshrine it in legislation, rather than providing for it in protocols. Protocols mean An Garda Síochána is still in control, even though there are agreements and understandings in place. If it was enshrined in legislation that GSOC and An Garda Síochána were on a level playing pitch, with the same powers and responsibilities to the State, it would be better for everyone.

I accept the point made by the Minister about the logistical nightmare of identifying PULSE in this instance. We address this issue in the amendment which seeks to insert a new section 103B in section 9. We propose that GSOC have access to any information it wants to have within a certain time period. This would cover the issue, rather than creating a logistical nightmare.

On the principle of access to information, we have tabled the amendment to the section because the big problem is there will be no co-operation where it does not suit. The Minister will say there is good co-operation for much of the time and I am sure there is, but in the Boylan case it took GSOC four years to get the information it wanted, which is mad. We need to have it enshrined in legislation that An Garda Síochána will be compelled to hand over the information GSOC needs. Perhaps this is not the section to deal with the issue.

In an ideal world, where things work smoothly on the basis of mutual respect and co-operation, co-operation between GSOC and An Garda Síochána would be advisable. Mandatory co-operation, if this does not sound like a contradiction, would be better. While there have, undoubtedly, been some improvements, the problem remains that if it is not specified, in cases in which tensions are high or where a serious matter is being investigated, there is a tendency to cover up. We need to ensure GSOC will not be hindered in its work. We cannot just specify PULSE, but often GSOC investigations are delayed by obstreperous and ridiculous objections to requests for information. In my case, it concerned a request for a list of staff on duty on the night in question. It took 11 or 12 letters to get the information, with replies being received querying the reason GSOC wanted to know the information.

There is a provision inserting, in section 103A, a legal obligation on the Garda Commissioner to hand over some information, but it only applies to investigations under section 102. It does not apply to more run-of-the-mill scenarios under sections 95 and 98 which cover the vast majority of GSOC investigations. Providing for GSOC to have the power to require someone to pass on information under these sections or to attend in person is important because there have been multiple examples of the GSOC process being delayed by someone not turning up or coming up with excuses. This is to seal the issue and give the provision more backbone. While noting the improvements made, it is worthwhile considering the amendment.

Deputy Clare Daly has referred to section 9 which includes new provisions that underpin the requirement on An Garda Commissioner to provide information for GSOC. It inserts a new section, section 103A, into the Garda Síochána Act, placing a statutory obligation on the Commissioner to provide GSOC with information as soon as practicable. I took the advice of the Attorney General on the wording of the section. Without specifying a specific time which would not work effectively in the management of work to be done, this is as strong a provision as I can include. The statutory obligation to provide information GSOC requires in carrying out its functions is strong. The information must be given to it. There is statutory underpinning of the obligation to provide it. It applies to the PULSE system and nothing in the section excludes information from a particular place. It also operates in respect of alterations made to it. ICT systems will be developed by An Garda Síochána, to which this section will apply.

In response to Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn's comments on the Estimates and ICT, at the time the Estimates were introduced I said that, given the serious concerns expressed by the Garda Inspectorate about the state of technology and the technology needs of an Garda Síochána, I had had discussions with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, and at the Cabinet. There was a commitment to provide the moneys necessary to begin to develop the right ICT infrastructure. I set up a working group with representatives from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána. I am pleased to say the group has made good progress and I hope to have a final draft of its recommendations shortly. We will then consider them, depending on resources. We will have for the first time a map of ICT needs in An Garda Síochána. It will include security needs. If we do not have a clear map of what is needed, the ad hoc arrangements we have had will continue. There is a serious need to upgrade and I am confident that the Government will support the development needed over a period of time.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 3, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 96(4) of Principal Act

5. Section 96(4) of the Principal Act is amended by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (4):

“(4) A person may not be required under subsection (1)(a) or (3)(a) to provide any information, document or thing that is designated, or is of a class designated, under section 126 as relating to the security of the State, and where a dispute occurs the matter shall be referred to the independent adjudicator.”.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 3, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 96(5) of Principal Act

5. Section 96(5) of the Principal Act is amended by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (5):

“(5) If a person required under subsection (1)(a) or (3)(a) to provide any information, document or thing claims that subsection (4) applies in relation to the matter, the Ombudsman Commission shall refer the matter to the independent adjudicator.”.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 3, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 96(6) of Principal Act

5. Section 96(6) of the Principal Act is amended by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (6):

“(6) If the Independent Adjudicator determines that the disclosure of all or part of the information, document or thing specified in the requirement would not be prejudicial to the security of the State or that its disclosure is necessary for the proper investigation of a matter concerning the death of, or serious harm to, a person as a result of Garda operations or while in the care or custody of the Garda Síochána, the Independent Adjudicator may issue a direction—

(a) specifying that all or part, as the case may be, of the document, information or thing be disclosed, and

(b) imposing any conditions or restrictions relating to the security of the State that the Independent Adjudicator considers appropriate.”.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 3, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“5. Section 98(1) of the Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following paragraph

after paragraph (g):

“(h) the search of the Garda Síochána Police Using Leading Systems Effectively (PULSE) computer system for any purpose relevant to the investigation being conducted by the designated Officer of the Ombudsman Commission.”.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 13 to 18, inclusive, are related. Amendment No. 18 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 17. Amendments Nos. 13 to 18, inclusive, will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 4, line 18, to delete “and subject to the consent of the Minister,”.

This issue was discussed on Committee Stage and earlier in our debate on Report Stage. If the Garda Commissioner is not subject to the same degree of oversight as everybody else in the organisation, GSOC will be perceived to be at a disadvantage and its independence will be undermined. I acknowledge that amendment No. 14 allows the Minister to change the relationship with the approval of the Government but that means both the Minister and the Government have an input on whether the Garda Commissioner of the day should be subject to oversight. Such an approach would still infringe on the independence of GSOC and undermine its ability to do the job with which it is charged under the legislation. If the head of the Garda is not subject to the same oversight as other officers or has the ability to ask the Government to deflect scrutiny, it is not a good provision.

Section 7 of the Bill as drafted inserts section 102B into the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This provision only allows GSOC to investigate the Garda Commissioner where the Minister consents to such an investigation and only if an offence or serious misconduct is suspected. These circumstances will rarely, if ever, arise. There is no strength or independence in this function and it is clear that political protection of the Commissioner can continue under this structure. Amendment No. 13 would allow GSOC complete independence in that function by removing the need for ministerial consent. The amendment also extends the circumstances in which an investigation might include a third group. Section 102A of the 2005 Act provides that GSOC shall report its conclusions to the Minister but my amendments propose that GSOC shall report to the new Garda authority, which may at its discretion subsequently report the matter to the Minister. Furthermore, it is only through ongoing monitoring and oversight of the Garda Commissioner's activities and policies by an independent Garda authority that a transformative impact will be made in terms of holding the Garda accountable to citizens. A once-off power for GSOC to investigate the Garda Commissioner with the consent of the Minister, and only on the grounds of a suspected criminal offence, is not sufficient.

The Minister is well aware of our feelings on this issue. The core of the issue for us is the ability of the Government of the day to retain control over policing by restricting GSOC in what it can investigate. I urge the Minister to rethink this provision. If one compares the different measures the Government has already introduced with our own policing Bill, there is a stark contrast in the area of real reform. In light of the strong public appetite for doing things differently, I believe the Minister would have the public's support if she took a stronger position on de-politicising policing. If we had tried to introduce the reforms proposed in our Bill several years ago, we would have been run out of the place. In fairness, we were nearly run out of the place when we introduced the Bill in 2013. We did not get much support, other than from Sinn Féin Members, who voted for it. It got more support in its second time in the House in July 2014 because the mood had shifted and the public were becoming aware that all was not well.

I am sure the Minister read Conor Brady's book in her spare time over Christmas. There is no doubt that the politicisation of policing has caused problems for successive Governments over the past 60 years. If she has not read the book, I suggest she do so. The two able officials sitting beside her should also read the book if they have not done so already. I am sure they make a serious impact on policy implementation. It is amazing how problematic the politicisation of policing has been over the years. I appeal to her to give GSOC the opportunity to hold the Garda Commissioner to account. That would be a serious reform and I would take my hat off to her if she took this step.

I call Deputy Mac Lochlainn.

I will wait until we have heard from the Minister.

This is the easiest limitation to identify in the Bill. It probably reflects a decision by the Government to tinker around the edges of Garda reform in the teeth of a massive public outcry on foot of the heroic efforts by a number of Garda whistleblowers, followed by which members of the public began to speak about their own experiences. These interventions led to a change in mentality both inside and outside of this House.

The Bill as it stands will not deliver the reforms that are necessary to establish a modern police service rather than the old type of police force that was subject to much public discussion. From the days of the heavy gang, the Kerry babies investigation and the Sallins train robbery through to the Donegal cases and the blue wall of silence in investigations the tendency was to cover up for poor behaviour. This Bill is supposed to offer a new start in terms of accountability but we need a system which offers the public an effective mechanism for bringing complaints about the activities of members of An Garda Síochána. The idea that the Garda Commissioner would be excluded from such a situation is clearly laughable. However, while it is welcome that the Commissioner is now being included, the provision that it will be subject to the approval of the Minister takes the teeth from the entire process and undermines the strength and independence of GSOC. The political protection of the Commissioner remains.

It is precisely as Deputy Wallace says. While GSOC can now investigate the Commissioner, it is only where the Minister consents and in the case of an offence or serious misconduct rather than by way of a facility to analyse ongoing behaviour and breach of duty. That is why amendment No. 15, which refers to repeated breach of duty, is also important. It should not only be in the case of a one-off incident and on an ad hoc, once-in-a-blue-moon, basis that GSOC can investigate. There should be a system to provide for effective monitoring and remedies on an ongoing basis where the Commissioner's behaviour is called to account.

The fact that GSOC has now replaced the confidential recipient adds a new dimension to this scenario. While members of the public may have complaints about individual gardaí or the practices, policies and procedures which can be complained about through the figurehead of the Garda Síochána, it will sometimes be the case that the personal actions of the Garda Commissioner affect matters. That is more likely to happen in cases where the complainant is a member of An Garda Síochána. The likelihood of a private citizen having a complaint personally against the Garda Commissioner rather than in respect of Garda policies is limited. However, gardaí themselves are in a position where they are more likely to need that mechanism. That is why this needs to have more teeth.

Public utterances are being made by the new Commissioner welcoming whistleblowers and asking people to speak out against dissent, but within the ranks of An Garda Síochána the reality is very different. This is because there are a number of people who used the mechanisms internally and through GSOC to make very serious complaints of Garda misconduct against their peers and, in particular, against senior members of the force. These serving Garda whistleblowers are living in hell as we speak. One of them is out sick for a period of nearly ten months and his case is being investigated by GSOC. It is a very difficult situation for that man and his family. As he goes about his daily business, he has to face unmarked patrol cars coming to the place he lives where no random cars pass by. He has a feeling of complete vulnerability and susceptibility to pressure. The Garda Commissioner overseas appointments, promotions and senior staffing and in many cases these are the people involved in the activity the person is complaining about. We have to be very mindful of that fact.

Some of the matters which have been brought forward for investigation involve very serious matters, including for example, gardaí being involved in the drugs trade, which is of deep concern. Information on this may have been given to the Commissioner and not acted upon while members of the force are still in their jobs. These are very worrying matters. The fact that complaints can be made for a period of nine or ten months without anything being done or any feedback provided is very worrying. We must remove political protection. While we will not rehearse what we debated yesterday and over the past few years in terms of the relationship between the former Minister for Justice and Equality and the former Commissioner, it is the reason many of these issues have got public traction. There was a feeling that the police force was, as the former Commissioner said, his force and not a body that should be accountable to citizens.

We must be careful here as a great deal of the activity gardaí are being forced into at the moment is not helping, including the involvement of members of An Garda Síochána in the policing of anti-water charges protests or the installation of water meters. We have been contacted by very senior members of An Garda Síochána who feel they are being pressurised by those at the top of the force because of political interference at Government level. They are being told to send their officers out to act as a private security firm for Irish Water and to go to war against the citizens they are trying to work with in communities on a collective and ongoing basis. The result of that has been a knock-back of community relations which undermines some excellent work by community gardaí who have been trying to move things on. It is critically important that any political protection is removed. We must make a couple of amendments on that while including breach of duty.

With regard to amendments Nos. 13 and 18, the scandal around the Garda erupted because of the perceived relationship between the Government, the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Commissioner. Unfortunately, the Bill fails to deal with the central issue of the Commissioner and the independent power of GSOC to investigate him or her. Why would the Government impede GSOC from investigating the Commissioner when that was one of the key issues that erupted last year? Why is the Government providing that GSOC must seek the permission of the Minister to investigate the Commissioner? If that provision remains in place, the reform will be an artificial one. GSOC should be independent and autonomous and should have the power to decide what its own investigations will be while, of course, having to justify them in the public interest.

The reputation of the Garda has never been as low in the mind of the public as it is now due to the issues that arose last year as well as because of recent events and the way gardaí are now being used. The Commissioner herself made a statement last week that was quite political and pointed on the nature of protests.

We should be careful about accusing the Commissioner of getting involved in political discussions.

The Commissioner made statements about protests.

That is fine, but they are not political.

It was quite a political statement to make.

However, the Deputy does not say it in the House.

It is at a time when gardaí are being used to protect private water metering companies and Irish Water. Communities see that resources are available at the drop of a hat for that but not to protect them when they are in danger from breaches of barring orders and so on.

I ask the Minister to tell the House why she is maintaining a barrier in the way of GSOC which prevents it investigating the Commissioner. It is a Third World situation. Surely, if one is establishing an independent investigative agency, it should be truly independent and autonomous.

I welcome some of the moves in the Bill. At least, the Commissioner will come under the remit of GSOC, which body is given some additional powers. However, the central issue on the Commissioner is a glaring one. Why does the Government refuse to break the stranglehold over GSOC?

I remind the House that we are discussing amendments Nos. 13 to 18, inclusive.

Section 7 of the Bill inserts a new section 102B into the 2005 Act which, for the first time, brings the Garda Commissioner within the scope of GSOC investigations. This is a significant and important development to which the Government attaches a great deal of importance. Far from the interpretation being given here, it is a significant provision which strengthens the powers of GSOC in regard to the Garda Commissioner. I will outline how we are providing for this and why the way we are doing it is appropriate and encompasses the proper protections. I reject absolutely some of the interpretation that has been given that this is about the ongoing politicisation of An Garda Síochána. It certainly is not.

It is far from that. It is about the duties and responsibilities of the Government and the Garda Commissioner. That is why it has been drafted as it has been.

In carrying out her general policing functions, the Garda Commissioner is the head of the national security service. In this the Commissioner fulfils a vital role which is very closely linked to the obligations of the Government within the framework of the Constitution to protect the security of the State. There are constitutional issues in regard to the obligations and responsibilities that a Government and the Minister for Justice and Equality have, and I refer the Deputy to them. After careful consideration and listening to what people had to say on Committee Stage, I said I would take account of the discussions that took place with many of the Deputies present here. Having reflected on the discussion and examined the provision, and given the importance of the decisions to be taken under the section and the key position of the Commissioner in security matters, I decided that the provisions of section 102B should be strengthened to provide a specific role for the Government rather than just for the Minister. While I note what Deputy Wallace said about this, he would expect it to be a rare occasion, as would I.

GSOC is an independent body and will have the authority, under this legislation, to investigate the Garda Commissioner. This is a very important power and did not exist previously. Rather than the decision remaining with one Minister, I deem the issue so serious that it would require a decision by the entire Government. This is why I have tabled amendments Nos. 14, 16 and 17, under which Government approval would be required before the Minister could consent to the investigation, request that GSOC commence such an investigation or refuse to consent to a proposed investigation by GSOC. It has been strengthened. Under amendment No. 17, the original proposal has been further strengthened to ensure that when the Government refuses a request by GSOC to undertake an investigation into the conduct of the Garda Commissioner, it must state reasons. The decision is not just for the Minister, who might have a relationship with the Garda Commissioner, but the Government, and it would have to be for stated reasons, which is important. The practical reality is that consent to a proposed investigation would be refused only in exceptional circumstances. In these circumstances, the Government would have to provide specific reasons. It is impossible to envisage any circumstances under which, on foot of a demonstrable concern that the Garda Commissioner may have committed an offence or behaved in a manner that would constitute serious misconduct, consent would be withheld.

The introduction of the requirement for Government approval of a ministerial decision under section 102B is intended to meet some concerns expressed on Committee Stage that there would be a ministerial veto on a GSOC investigation into the Garda Commissioner. I hope the Deputies will accept the Government amendments in this spirit and also because of the pivotal national security functions undertaken by the Commissioner. It would not be appropriate to accept the amendments, which would remove the requirements for ministerial consent.

Amendment No. 15, tabled by Deputies Wallace and Clare Daly, seeks to add an additional criterion for which GSOC could initiate an investigation into the Garda Commissioner. The proposal is that GSOC could investigate the Garda Commissioner if it considers the Commissioner had repeatedly breached his or her duties. Having examined the amendment, I am satisfied that, were the Commissioner found to have officially breached her duties, the case would be comprehended by proposed section 102B(1)(b), which allows for investigation in cases in which the Commissioner behaves in a manner that would "constitute serious misconduct". This is a broad concept which extends not just to a specific set of actions but to a course of contact. The proposed amendment is not necessary. In addition, I am concerned that the Deputies are focusing on a very particular set of circumstances and given the varied circumstances that could arise, it is not the approach that should be adopted. I regret that I cannot accept the amendment and I ask the Deputies not to press it. I have listened to the debate and discussion on Committee Stage and have brought in three amendments which give further protection regarding the points discussed on Committee Stage and which acknowledge the very serious situation outlined. If GSOC said there had to be an investigation into the Garda Commissioner, the Minister's decision would have to be supported by a Government decision and if the Government refused, there would have to be stated reasons. This would involve the Cabinet taking its obligations and responsibilities under the Constitution as it should.

I do not accept some of the language that has been used, that we are tinkering around the edges of Garda reform. Very real reform is taking place. There will be further amendments relating to GSOC under the Garda Síochána (policing authority and miscellaneous provisions) Bill, which was intended to deal with a number of issues originally. The establishment of the Garda authority was one of the main points Deputy Wallace had in his original Bill. It is moving forward and will be done. No doubt we will have debates on a number of issues related to it.

Some of the points that are being made here on whistleblowing and the cases that have emerged in recent times are about a culture which is and has been changing over time. While legislation, clearly, has a role to play, so does good management and acceptance of the need for reform. Far from the way Deputy Coppinger has described it, gardaí, in their provision of a public service and what it has been necessary for them to do regarding protests, have been keeping the peace. Considerable resources have been involved. I ask Deputies to reflect on the amendments I have introduced in response to the Committee Stage debate and I hope they can accept them.

The Minister stated she could not conceive of a situation in which the Minister or Government would not give GSOC permission to investigate where it was perceived that the Garda Commissioner was behaving very poorly. Although she placed much emphasis on the fact that the Government rather than the Minister would have the power to make some of the decisions, there is little comfort in this, given that the Government of the day has a majority. While it is good that issues are debated in the House, the decisions do not necessarily change very often. Much the same can be said of the Minister's role in this regard.

It is good to have a debate and for us to have our say, even if we do not change the final outcome. The definition of democracy is "you can say what you like but you do what you are told".

The Minister says she cannot conceive of such a situation but I recall for several months in here we challenged the former Minister for Justice and Equality on the issue of racial profiling in the Garda Síochána. We had some serious evidence of it but the Minister took the position, and said in here, the Garda Commissioner says there is no racial profiling and that is good enough for me. That is the reply we got. That is scary. The present Minister may say she cannot conceive of a situation arising where she would not do the right thing and give GSOC permission to investigate where it should but she will not always be the Minister for Justice and Equality. The person who comes after her might not behave as well as the Minister might like him or her to behave.

Incidentally, the former Minister told us we were a disgrace when we raised the points that were subsequently vindicated. I too can think of many instances where an offence might be alleged against the Commissioner that needed to be investigated and a Minister would not consent. Picture the scene - a Garda whistleblower goes to the Minister, says that senior gardaí are involved in, for example, the drugs trade, entrapping people and supplying drugs in a particular area. The Minister goes to the Commissioner who gives an assurance that there is nothing to see and further wrongdoing is perpetrated afterwards. When the Commissioner is called to account for her actions she can legitimately say she discussed it with the Minister and the Minister agreed with her. Suddenly the Minister’s interests and the Commissioner’s interests are intrinsically linked and a proper independent scrutiny is prohibited because of that ministerial block.

When the heads of this Bill were announced there was a huge welcome for the headline that GSOC would be given the power to investigate the Commissioner, that it would be independent and autonomous. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties and many of the other human rights organisations welcomed the move. Then we saw the caveat, "only on our terms", which gave the matter a different flavour. This means the Commissioner can be seen as a creature of the Minister. The political appointment of the new Commissioner does not help that situation. The Minister has talked about a new regime inside An Garda Síochána and there is certainly a lot of talk about it but those at the top of An Garda Síochána are exactly the same as those who were there a year ago under Commissioner Callinan. There needs to be a more radical change. The Commissioner needs to be accountable to GSOC in a totally independent way.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 42; Níl, 62.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • White, Alex.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Niall Collins and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 4, line 18, after "Minister" to insert "given with the approval of the Government".

Amendment put and declared carried.

Amendment No. 15 was discussed with amendment No. 13. Is the amendment being pressed?

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 4, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

"(c) repeated breach of duty.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 4, to delete lines 23 to 27 and substitute the following:

“(2) The Minister may, with the approval of the Government and if he or she considers it desirable in the public interest to do so, request the Ombudsman Commission to investigate any matter that gives rise to a concern that the Garda Commissioner may have done anything referred to in subsection (1), and the Commission shall investigate that matter.”.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 4, to delete lines 28 to 30 and substitute the following:

“(3) The Minister may, with the approval of the Government, for stated reasons refuse to consent to an investigation by the Ombudsman Commission of any matter under subsection (2).”.

Amendment put and declared carried.
Amendment No. 18 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 19, 20 and 24 to 31, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 5, line 9, to delete “Minister” and substitute “Garda Authority”.

This amendment goes back to the same chestnut of trying to garner as much independence as possible for the ombudsman commission with less influence from the Government of the day. If we manage eventually to put in place an independent Garda authority, it will have great potential to make matters better. It will certainly go a long way towards creating a buffer, about which we have spoken, to deal with an overly close relationship between a Minister and a Garda Commissioner. At least there will be some light of day in that regard. Obviously, the structure of the new Garda authority will be paramount and it is important it has a strong element of independence. If that is achieved, it will go a long way towards addressing public confidence in how this authority is structured. It will also make serious inroads into how our police force operates, given it has lacked transparency in how it operated in the past.

Another issue is that the Garda code of conduct, a large document which will more or less outline how a garda should behave, has not been published yet. It would be helpful and important in the interests of transparency that it is published soon. An independent policing authority would have more of an opportunity of holding An Garda Síochána to account on a regular basis. That is what we want. It is not good enough that investigations roll on for some time. What we really need is constant monitoring of how the force works.

This would present a serious challenge to the blue wall of silence that is sadly still in place. It is unfortunate public confidence in the force has dipped so low. This is mainly due to the indiscipline of many members in the senior ranks of the force. It has been very unfortunate that rank-and-file gardaí have suffered dramatically due to indiscipline at senior management level. The Guerin report pointed out that it was striking that censure and discipline in the Bailieborough area only applied to the rank and file when in fact it was management and supervisors who were most at fault for much of the wrongdoings there. Obviously, we will learn more about this in time once the commission of investigation eventually reports. There is a feeling that censure and sanctions are confined to the rank and file when in fact the biggest challenges in the force are how the senior ranks operate and how senior members in different divisions seem to be unaccountable. We have yet to be convinced that the new Garda Commissioner is in control of some of the senior members in the different sections.

Another dimension in developing public confidence in the force will be resources. These are essential to improving how our police force operates. Over the past several years, we have concentrated mainly on the need to change dramatically the culture in the force. Resources are a big issue too. Last week, I received correspondence from one of the new recruits at Templemore Garda College. Although he was dying to get the job, he expressed serious unrest about the fact his starting salary after graduation will only be €23,171 before any tax is deducted. He pointed out that in 2010 there was a pay cut of 10% for gardaí with a further 10% cut for new employees. He stated:

To add to this strain, we are the first batch of recruits who will not be receiving the pensionable rent allowance of approximately €4,000 per annum, an allowance that has been in place since the inception of An Garda Síochána and one that all members of the service rely on and view as regular pay. Worth about €77 per week, the loss of this will really mean the difference between paying the rent and buying enough food for the week for new members. The loss of this allowance is the main issue which we are concerned about. Having met with the GRA, Garda Representative Association, and having highlighted the issue, we feel little is being done to fight for the restoration of this vital allowance.

The situation is simple. When we leave Templemore for our stations later this year, we will all feel that for our fair day’s work, we will not be receiving a fair day’s pay. A starting salary of €23,171 is literally not enough to survive on, especially for many of the recruits who will be sent to Dublin from their home counties and will be faced with higher rents and the need to own a car due to shift work. By the time food bills and fuel come into the equation, members will be in a very difficult place.

I am concerned about this. The garda in question obviously will need a car and will be forced to move from home when he graduates. Only a small percentage of these new recruits will get to stay at home when they graduate. The challenge of running a car and paying rent on a salary of €23,171 is a bit scary. The Government needs to look at this.

Building the morale of the Garda Síochána by improving structures, discipline, transparency and accountability should be matched with good working conditions for all gardaí.

The Minister alluded earlier to the fact that she will be tabling some other amendments to deal with GSOC in the context of the imminent Garda authority legislation. The UN Human Rights Committee, in its periodic review last summer, made the point that there is an urgent need for Ireland to deal with this issue and strengthen the independence of GSOC while ensuring that the Garda authority marries in with and complements the project. This batch of amendments seeks to insert the Garda authority into the role of overseeing the Garda Commissioner and the Garda Síochána. It is to remove the ministerial block on some of the investigations and analysis which could go to GSOC, and instead have that power transferred from the Minister to the Garda authority.

Under the forthcoming Garda Síochána (policing authority and miscellaneous provisions) Bill, the Minister will be proposing to make the Garda Commissioner accountable to the authority in a certain sense, but also to the Minister. It is unfair to make the Garda Commissioner accountable to the authority without giving the authority sufficient powers to be able to enforce this accountability. How can the Garda authority hold the Commissioner to account when the Commissioner's position is, in effect, protected by the Minister who appoints her or him? Although the ultimate sanction of removal exists, the Commissioner can only be removed by the Government.

The issue we touched on earlier concerning the unique position of the Garda Commissioner as head of policing and head of security is a problem when we look at investigations. Under the heads of the Garda Síochána (policing authority and miscellaneous provisions) Bill, the Minister is the final arbiter on many of these things including a discrepancy on whether an issue should be considered as a policing matter or a security matter. We believe the Minister would have an interest in these scenarios and it is not a fair way of dealing with it. A right wing Government such as this one could, for example, view the protest that took place around May Day, the water charges protests or the Shell to sea protests as national security issues rather than policing issues and therefore block investigations. If the Minister is really talking about transforming the Garda Síochána into a modern police service, the only way that is going to work is to have a very substantial Garda authority which has the power to call the shots. That Garda authority would have to be the vehicle to feed into GSOC, which would consider any complaints.

That is really what these amendments seek to provide. We will have to table a considerable number of amendments to the Garda Síochána (policing authority and miscellaneous provisions) Bill because based on the heads of Bill, what the Minister is proposing is far from what is necessary. We will be reverting back to many of the measures proposed by Deputy Wallace when he moved his Bill on the same subject previously.

There is a very basic problem with the amendments tabled and it will become obvious when I explain it. I am unable to accept the amendments because the Deputies are trying to give certain responsibilities to the proposed policing authority, a body that has not yet been established. How could the House agree to assign responsibilities in advance of a body being set up? That clearly cannot be done; it is not possible from a legislative point of view.

The policing authority has not been set up. We have the heads of Bill and the Government is committed to setting up an independent policing authority, the obligations and responsibilities of which will be clearly outlined. The Government also has obligations and responsibilities in these areas. In establishing the policing authority, we will be defining very carefully the constitutional responsibilities that remain with the Minister for Justice and Equality. We have stated that we want a policing authority that will have supervisory responsibilities on policing. The Garda Commissioner will be going before that body and it will have the power to get information and will have to be furnished with various reports. That will all be in the Garda Síochána (policing authority and miscellaneous provisions) Bill, which is being prioritised at present and will be published, I expect, in the current Dáil term. The work is being done and we will have a discussion about the responsibilities and balances, and the transition that will have to take place in policing, when the Bill is published and the authority gets under way.

It is a major decision to have a policing authority. A number of countries have done it, as the Deputies know very well. There are various issues that we will have to tease out and deal with carefully when the time comes. I cannot anticipate that legislation by accepting the Deputies' amendments. We cannot assign legislative responsibilities to a body that is not yet established. I understand the point of principle the Deputies are making, but their timing makes it impossible for me to accept the amendments.

If the economic situation had not improved as it has - and I accept that it will take some time before everybody feels the benefits of that improvement - without the reduction in employment we have seen and the possibility of a budget with some investment in it, we would not have seen the increased resources that are now going to the Garda Síochána. There is a stark contrast between the resources that were given prior to the last budget and the current situation. There is a clear commitment to give the Garda the resources to begin recruitment.

The point about rent allowance was raised yesterday at the justice committee by Deputy Niall Collins. Those allowances go back to 1926. The Government made a decision, given the economic situation, and there was overall saving of approximately €450 million. We are talking about very substantial sums of money.

I was down at Templemore a few days ago and the recruits are very pleased to be there. There was a huge number of applications and, as the economic situation improves, the Government wants to make the kind of changes that will make a difference in people's pay packets. We want to make sure that work is worthwhile. This intention has been clearly laid out by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan and other members of the Government. It is important to recognise change when it does take place. One can repeat endlessly that there is no confidence in the Garda Síochána but the reality is that people in many situations put their confidence in the Garda. From an administrative and management point of view, some of the shortcomings have been clearly articulated in the Garda Inspectorate report and they need to be addressed - nobody is denying that. There are clearly cultural issues which the management has accepted need to change. We now have the Protected Disclosures Bill 2013, for example, in respect of whistleblowing, which was brought in by this Government. We have changes in the management of whistleblowers being accepted by the Garda. Organisations do not change overnight.

Many organisations have great difficulty in respect of working with whistleblowers, managing that issue and getting better at managing it. This is something that has to happen. Clearly there is a different history in this area but we are in different times now and organisations need to react and deal with the matter appropriately. The legislation is in place to underpin that.

People should not endlessly repeat the mantra that there is no confidence and that there has been no change when, in fact, there is change. Change takes time and it does not occur overnight but numerous initiatives have been put in place indicating a changed approach, including the protected disclosure issue, the changes to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, the further empowerment of GSOC and the Garda authority Bill. This is real change. It may not be as much as the Opposition seeks and Deputies may have points to make in that regard. However, there are constitutional issues as well as the obligations and responsibilities of Government and the Minister for Justice and Equality to take account of when framing the legislation. That is what we have done and continue to do. It remains a priority to bring the legislation to the House as quickly as possible.

It is important to acknowledge the ongoing work done on a daily basis by An Garda Síochána in preventing crime, protecting communities and upholding the security of the State. Deputies know the statistics from Limerick - I imagine Deputy Niall Collins, in particular, is familiar with them - relating to the series of murders and the nature of the Garda resources that had to be put in place there to deal with that situation. Opposition Deputies know the resources that have gone into upholding security and ensuring that the security of the State is upheld. Again, I emphasise the importance of acknowledging the work that is being done on an ongoing basis by An Garda Síochána as well as the need for change.

It is unfair for the Minister to try to suggest that we were saying everything was wrong. We are addressing the problems that exist. We acknowledge that some things are being done well. We also acknowledge that many gardaí do a great job and really care. We are seeking to address those who have misbehaved. We are simply reacting to and reflecting what we hear from the public. Of course many among the public have confidence in the Garda.

Some people have suffered due to malpractice by some members of the force. Sadly too many of these members are at a senior rank to be concerned about it. Bruce Springsteen's song "Atlantic City" often springs to my mind when people come to me with complaints. A line in the song is:

Down here it's just winners and losers and

Don't get caught on the wrong side of that line

There is no doubt many gardaí do a great job, much good work is being done and many people are happy with the force. However, we are addressing the problems being brought to our attention in respect of which things are not quite so rosy.

The amendments were not ruled out of order. Before the Minister came to the House yesterday, the Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, was sitting in her place. At the time I expressed surprise that this Bill and the Garda authority Bill were not being considered together as part of a larger Bill. There will be overlap between the two and we will be undoing some of this when we come to dealing with the new Garda authority Bill. I realise the new policing authority is probably running behind the anticipated schedule of last summer. I accept that there is a time-gap between the two tranches of legislation but it would have been better if the two had been done together.

In some ways this is a reflection of the reactionary nature of the proposals rather than a proactive approach and engagement in substantial reform. In a sense, a piecemeal approach does not work and that is part of the problem. It is a little rich to suggest we cannot have an amendment referring to the Garda authority but someone can be politically appointed to chair the Garda authority, assume that position and be in place already. This exposes some of the problems. A comprehensive approach would not deal with it in this way. Rather, it would start by looking at what we need to have to ensure real policing by consent and real democratic accountability. That would mean a substantial authority with a large level of input from civil society.

The reason Deputy Wallace mentioned the appalling starting pay for new gardaí is precisely because we fully respect the job that gardaí do. The level of payment is wholly unacceptable for the people who do that job. If the Government values them, it should look at that as well.

While it is true to say that some things are beginning to be addressed, there will be a lead-in. It is not true to suggest everyone agrees the problems with Garda Inspectorate report are real and need to be addressed. The Commissioner did not agree with it. She was quick off the mark to say there is no evidence of massaging of the figures and so on. She promptly disagreed with the report and downplayed its findings. Likewise, this is the problem with the protected disclosures Bill. The need for this reform has been highlighted in the public domain precisely as a result of the heroic endeavours of members of An Garda Síochána who have spoken up about what has gone on and certain behaviour, in particular the behaviour of those at senior level.

Although there is a mechanism in place, what is the reality on the ground? One Garda whistleblower has been out of work for ten months at this stage. Before Christmas, he and his partner had to take an injunction against An Garda Síochána to stop it from holding an internal investigation into a spurious non-complaint, allegedly made by his partner against him. The man is living with this. He went to GSOC and the commission took his complaints seriously but he has been left isolated and vulnerable. He is not on his own. Others are in the same position in respect of investigations going on for months.

We are trying to improve the situation. We know certain measures have been put in place but the Government will not improve things if those at the top are the same as they were before. There needs to be a far more substantial shake-up. The creation of the Garda authority, and vesting power with it rather than the Minister is part of that process and is critical.

I do not have any further comments to make, save to say it is not possible for me to accept in a legislative sense the assignment of responsibilities to a body that does not exist at this point.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 5, line 10, after “investigation.” to insert the following:

“If the Garda Authority deems it necessary and in the public interest, the Authority may subsequently report the matter to the Minister.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 5, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:

“9. The Ombudsman Commission may, if the investigation so requires, access the PULSE system.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 are alternatives and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 5, lines 34 and 35, to delete all words from and including “section” in line 34 down to and including line 35 and substitute the following:

“sections 95, 98, 102 or 106, is so provided within four weeks of the date of receipt of a formal request.

103B. An Assistant Garda Commissioner shall ensure that information is to be provided by the Garda Síochána to the Ombudsman Commission for the purposes of an investigation by the Commission of a complaint, or an investigation by the Commission of any matter under section 102B is so provided within four weeks of the date of receipt of a formal request.”.”.

The insertion of section 103A, as drafted, by the Government is encouraging. For the first time it establishes a statutory and legal obligation on the Garda Commissioner to provide information to GSOC. However, this only applies to section 102 investigations. This amendment broadens the scope to include the standard section 95 and section 98 investigations, which comprise the vast majority of GSOC investigations. Neither does this obligation apply to section 106 investigations into practice, policy and procedure. Given that the Commissioner may now be the subject of an investigation, the addition of the proposed section 103B requires that an assistant commissioner be responsible for the provision of information which might incriminate the Commissioner.

A more definite timetable than "as soon as practicable" is also necessary to provide clarity and strength, and the above amendment sets a timeframe of four weeks. The UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern in July 2014 at Ireland's compliance with articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR, stating that it was concerned about "the ability of [GSOC] to function independently and effectively", referencing the time taken to complete investigations due to lack of co-operation by the police.

Until now, provision of information was done by way of mutual co-operation or, more recently, by protocol or soft law, which is unenforceable. As repeatedly recommended by the UN, most recently in the concluding comments by the Human Rights Committee in July 2014, section 106 has been amended in the Government draft to allow GSOC the independence to initiate investigations into the practice, policies and procedures of the Garda. Prior to this, the Minister's consent was required before GSOC could initiate any such investigation. Indeed, the last three Ministers have refused permission to investigate the Corrib policing controversies for overtly political reasons. However, section 106 reports will be made to the Minister, who may or may not redact parts before laying them before the House. Once the policing authority is established, it would seem more appropriate that GSOC would present these reports to the authority. This amendment makes that change while allowing the Minister to retain the duty of laying those reports to the House, subject to national security. However, where there is a dispute between the Minister and the Garda authority over any exclusions from those reports on national security grounds, a right of appeal to the designated judge under section 100 of the 2005 Act is provided for.

Allowing GSOC to look at the practices, policies and procedures of the Garda is a move in the right direction, but it would be better if it was not in the hands of the Minister to redact as he or she sees fit. One can imagine if, by chance, in the case of this becoming law, GSOC decided to investigate Corrib. We have been down to Corrib and I do not understand why several governments have refused to investigate what went on there because it was a national disgrace. If GSOC should decide to investigate it, and if it is not allowed to publish its investigation results, but must go back to the Government of the day, I would not be very optimistic about the prospect of the Government revealing all that the GSOC investigation threw up. On that ground alone, the Government veto, for want of a better word, over the GSOC investigation through section 106 should be removed and any investigations that GSOC carries out into the practices, policies and procedures of An Garda Síochána should be published by GSOC.

The Minister implied that we were saying nothing had changed. We have not said that, but this is a good, or poor, example of how things are half-changing or quarter-changing. That is the point we are trying to address. It is very good that, for the first time, section 103 inserts a statutory and legal obligation on the Commissioner to provide information to GSOC. That is good and we are very happy with it but as Deputy Wallace said, it is only being provided in regard to section 102 inquiries. It is not being provided in sections 95 and 98, and most of the queries and complaints that come before GSOC come under those criteria, involving the people with whom all the Deputies' paths have crossed. In such cases, in many instances information has not been passed over in a timely or accurate manner to GSOC and this has inhibited its ability to conduct proper investigations. That point is even more critical in regard to section 106, on investigations into practices, policies and procedures. This is a new departure, which was highlighted repeatedly over the years on multiple occasions by the UN human rights bodies and special rapporteurs. Giving the Government possession of those reports when they come back is not good enough. It is moving a quarter of the way in the direction we need to go. That means it is a piecemeal and non-comprehensive approach to what we need to be doing.

I do not think our amendment is in contradiction of Deputy Mac Lochlainn's. Thirty days versus four weeks is not the problem. The point we are both trying to get at is that it is very hard to define "as soon as practicable". If members of An Garda Síochána were being obstreperous or unhelpful in their dealings, relying on what Deputy Wallace called soft law or protocols, that is not enough. Defining the timescale in some way would be better. It might be something we have to return to later and monitor if the Minister is not going to accept the amendment now.

The term "As soon as practicable" does not deliver what we want here. I was chairing the public oversight committee when the Garda Ombudsman Commissioners came before us to speak to their seven- or eight-page summary of the report into the Kieran Boylan affair. I appreciate that protocols are in place and that levels of co-operation have improved, but what they revealed then was disturbing. Also disturbing was their decision to publish a seven- or eight-page summary of their findings in the media. They appeared on RTE's "Prime Time" and they appeared before our committee. According to whatever understandings were in place at that time, documents were to be given within 30 days. That was the understanding. In one case, after over four years, one document was never given to them. I believe that senior members of An Garda Síochána stymied their investigation. I know it went to the DPP and that there were no charges, but no member of the public can look at the evidence.

The allegations could not have been more serious to the effect that somebody who was charged with possession of €1.3 million worth of drugs and was visiting grief and misery on communities in this State had charges dropped. It was alleged that he was an informer on behalf of some within An Garda Síochána and was being handled off the books, and that other people were being set up. Some of the senior gardaí who were blocking that information and documentation being given to GSOC were under scrutiny. That was an example of why the requirement to hand over documentation within 30 days must be on a legislative, statutory footing, rather than some friendly protocol or something that was agreed.

I am aware that much has changed and I welcome many of the reforms that are on the way, and that more power is given to the independent policing authority here. My fear is that the system, even though it uses nice language, always tries to resist real change, real accountability and real equality in relationships. I would like to have one Garda Ombudsman, but we need a situation where the three Garda Ombudsman Commissioners are absolutely equal in the eyes of the law with the Garda Commissioner and are given the same powers and ability to hold the Garda to account. The Kieran Boylan affair was scandalous. Saying it was scandalous does not even do justice to the appalling lack of co-operation and procrastination, stalling and blockage by senior members of An Garda Síochána into a matter the Garda Ombudsman Commissioners themselves felt they needed to investigate.

These actions held back justice. While I accept that protocols have been introduced in the meantime, we need more than protocols. We must send a clear message in legislation that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and the Garda Commissioner have equal status and must have the powers needed to do their jobs.

I hope the Minister, having declined to accept previous amendments, will accept this amendment and the timeframe of 30 days. Anyone following this debate, particularly those who have reflected on the Kieran Boylan affair, will agree that we need something more than protocols and language such as the phrase "as soon as is practicable". A clearly defined deadline is required and there must be serious repercussions when it is not met.

We discussed certain elements of this amendment earlier. We are sending a strong message by imposing on the Garda Commissioner a statutory obligation to provide information. This is an important step. As Deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly acknowledged, it is right to underpin in law the obligation to make information available. The purpose of the new section 103A which is being inserted in the Act by section 9 is to place a statutory obligation on the Garda Commissioner to provide for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission any information it needs for the purpose of the investigation of a complaint. In that regard and to respond to an earlier point, the obligation applies to all sections of the Bill and is not confined in scope. The statutory obligation to make available information applies to any investigation or matters comprehended by sections 102 and 102B.

A clear issue has been identified. I cannot comment on the particular case raised by Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, other than to state a decision was made by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Historically and even in recent years, there has been a problem with the time taken to provide information. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has made the point that information needs to be provided in as timely a manner as possible and the Garda Síochána has accepted this.

As I indicated, GSOC has informed me that the timeframe within which information is provided has changed considerably. I have undertaken to provide the Deputies opposite with all information available to me on this issue in order that they can see the changes that have taken place in the time the Garda takes to provide information. This is very important for complainants and others in ensuring investigations can proceed speedily.

The legislation requires information to be provided for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission as soon as practicable, that is, as soon as it is feasible to do so. It is inevitable that circumstances will arise in which it may take longer to make information available. It would be very difficult to adhere to a specific deadline in some circumstances, for example, where a key witness is not available, a large body of documentation is required or a case is highly complex. However, we have introduced a statutory obligation which the Garda Commissioner must fulfil. This is an important step.

I am aware that the time taken to supply information and material to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission was unacceptable in the past. The new provision gives the commission the power to be insistent, where necessary, and places an obligation on the Garda Síochána to supply the information sought. Clearly, each side needs to understand the role and obligations of the other side.

It is important that information required to conduct or complete an investigation is provided as quickly as possible. As I stated, this is a statutory obligation. We can monitor the position. We have introduced changes, including the introduction of protocols on the initiative of the Department as a means of dealing with problems in the information flow between An Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

I indicated on Committee Stage that I would further examine the provision of information for GSOC. Having done so and following consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, I consider the measure provided in the Bill to be appropriate to the circumstances that may arise in investigations. However, I will keep the matter under review. I hope the information I provide on the current position on the provision of information will reassure Deputies that timeframes are being adhered to, wherever possible. Where that is not the case, it is generally the result of the complexity of a case or a particular circumstance such as a key witness not being available.

I welcome the Minister's statement that the statutory obligation applies to all sections. If that is the case, it is good news. I will revisit the text to ascertain how we misinterpreted it.

While the Minister has made rational and reasonable points about what is and is not possible, it is not good practice to leave this matter open-ended. It is asking too much of any human being, not to speak of someone who is under pressure, to expect him or her to behave at his or her best at all times. If the Minister considers a period of 30 days to be too short in certain circumstances, perhaps she might introduce a longer time limit. A six-month timeframe appears reasonable. Why should it take more than six months to produce information? We know that it took four years for certain material to be produced in the Boylan case. I ask the Minister to consider my suggestion.

The best thing to do is to keep the matter under review. If I were to include in the section a time limit of six months or one year, that period would become the norm. I understand the average period for producing information is shorter than six months. I suggest we keep the position on timeframes under review.

Why not maintain the proposed period of 30 days and provide that, where it is not possible to meet this timeframe for certain specified reasons, a maximum period of six months applies? The time limit must not be open-ended.

I will consider the Deputy's suggestion.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 5, line 35, to delete "as soon as practicable" and substitute "within thirty days".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 6, line 6, to delete "Minister" and substitute "Garda Authority".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 6, line 12, to delete "Minister" and substitute "Garda Authority".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 6, line 18, to delete "Minister" and substitute "Garda Authority".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 6, line 19, to delete "Minister" and substitute "Garda Authority".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 6, line 26, to delete "under subsection (3)" and substitute "from the Garda Authority".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 6, to delete lines 28 to 33 and substitute the following:

"(5) (a) The Minister may exclude from the copies of reports which are to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas under subsection (4) any matter which, in his or her opinion would be prejudicial to the interests of national security.

(b) If the Minister takes any action under paragraph (a), reasons must be provided to the Garda Authority for any such exclusion, and the Garda Authority shall have a right of appeal in this regard to the designated Judge under section 100 of the Principal Act.".".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 6, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:

11. Section 117 of the Principal Act is amended by substituting “the Garda Authority” for “the Minister” wheresoever it appears.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 6, line 38, to delete “Minister” and substitute “Garda Authority”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 32 is out of order.

Amendment No. 32 not moved.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question put: "That the Bill do now pass."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 63; Níl, 37.

  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Mick Wallace and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Question declared carried.