1. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach to provide an update on the formation of the Dublin north inner city task force, its terms of reference, chair and timescale. [30289/16]
Vol. 925 No. 2
1. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach to provide an update on the formation of the Dublin north inner city task force, its terms of reference, chair and timescale. [30289/16]
Last July, the Government launched a major initiative for the Dublin north-east inner city with the establishment of a ministerial task force to oversee the long-term social and economic regeneration of the area.
To support the work of the ministerial task force, Mr. Kieran Mulvey was appointed to engage with the local community groups, representatives and other interests and to report back by November with specific recommendations.
The terms of reference for this work were also published in July and these include making recommendations on specific measures to support the long-term economic and social regeneration of the area, including in the areas of: community safety and policing; early intervention programmes for children; education and training; employment opportunities; improving the physical environment; housing; tackling the impact of drugs; and community development, including family, youth and recreational activity.
Part of the work involves reviewing and making recommendations on structures and procedures to ensure better co-ordination of statutory and non-statutory programmes in the area.
It will also be important to identify some indicators of economic and social development which can be used to track progress over a ten-year period. A number of short-term measures were also announced to help the community address some of the immediate challenges facing it. The ministerial task force, which I chair, is due to meet again next week and will be briefed by Mr. Mulvey on his work to date. I understand he is concluding his initial phase of work which has involved many meetings with people in the area, including community groups, residents, businesses, public representatives and public agencies. He has invited groups and individuals to make short submissions, which he is now receiving. He remains on track to submit his report by the end of November.
The Taoiseach will recall that prior to the establishment of the task force, I told him that not only were older people very nervous and frightened about what was happening in the north inner city, many children were very frightened as well and were asking their parents to explain what was going on. The Taoiseach pointed out a number of issues at the heart of the difficulties faced by the community, particularly the development of a strong and localised community police force. In the north inner city, it has become very common to see armed police units carrying out checks on motorists and travellers going up and down the different roads and entrances. The feud between a number of criminal elements is, unfortunately, still ongoing. I am not aware that any people have been apprehended in respect of the four murders that have taken place in the area. I know that families and distant relatives of people on both sides are terrified about what will happen.
In the context of the proposed Garda strike, does the Taoiseach have a proposal to ensure people in the north inner city are safe given the extreme breakdown of law and order the feud has involved and the fact that people are very frightened? There were many very good proposals and work was done to strengthen community policing. The Taoiseach might let us know how many additional gardaí have been allocated to the north city centre since the development of the task force. As the Taoiseach noted, there is an ongoing, pervasive and very serious drug problem that is a major contributor to gangland crime and the difficulties in many people's lives. It affects not just users but their families who are also affected by pressure for payments that are alleged to be related to drug debts. In the context of this very vulnerable area and the proposed Garda strike involving the withdrawal of services, what proposals does the Taoiseach have to ensure not just adults but children can feel safe? The Taoiseach has taken on the leadership of this. Has consideration been given to a policing plan for the area? Will the Taoiseach tell us what additional Garda resources have been given to the area? We hope the Garda strike does not happen but if it takes place, which would involve gardaí of different ranks withdrawing their labour, what resourcing is proposed?
The creation of this task force was a proposal from Deputy McDonald. When she put the proposal, she was very specific and clued in about the need to involve the local community because the local community is central to this. The job of politicians should be to empower citizens. The weakness in the Government's approach is that the task force is a ministerial one. Those who live and work in the community and who have helped it to survive despite successive Governments neglecting and actively discriminating against them do not have the type of involvement they should have at this time. The North Inner City Community Coalition has produced an excellent report, which I am sure the Taoiseach has read. It is very extensive and thoughtful and reports on all the interventions across a range of issues that it believes are needed. If I may say so, it is the expert. The Taoiseach and I as well as task forces will come and go but if we had a task force with the statutory involvement of local people, that would be a constant. It must be sustainable, properly resourced and involve a long-term intervention, not a quick fix on the back of deplorable murders or other controversies which will spark up every so often. Before those murders, the problems in the inner city, like many other neglected areas, were still there.
I understand that Mr. Kieran Mulvey will visit Ballybough House this evening at the invitation of Deputy McDonald. I am sure the local people will tell him what they have told me and the Taoiseach and give detailed propositions for improving their quality of life and opportunities for their children. Those children have the same potential and possibilities and deserve the same rights as anyone else. Will the Taoiseach give a firm commitment to publish the Mulvey report when he receives it and hold a debate in the House as quickly as possible? Will he accept and support the key involvement of local community representatives and stakeholders as of right in this task force because it could be a wasted opportunity?
Standing Order 39(1) is proving somewhat problematic. I tabled three questions for this session. One related to raising the issue of Aleppo and Syria at the European Council. It was arbitrarily sent by someone in the Taoiseach's office to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade when it was legitimate for this session. There were two other questions on programme for Government items.
To be helpful to the Deputy, that matter was brought to my attention this morning. I believe that a procedure can be put in place to ensure this does not happen again notwithstanding the prerogative of the Taoiseach or Minister to transfer questions.
I would even suggest that if the Taoiseach knew about it, he would not have approved it because the only way we can address a European Council issue-----
Procedures can be put in place.
-----is to ask the Taoiseach because he is the only person at the Council.
I have confidence in Kieran Mulvey to set about the task. I also make the point that there has been investment in the north inner city for many years in areas like education and schools. I sanctioned quite a lot for Sheriff Street in respect of second level schools. What is lacking is consistent application of community resource supports. Certain projects and interventions were discontinued, which was a mistake. This did not just apply to the north inner city but to other areas with significant economic and social disadvantage where many community supports were taken back and models of intervention changed.
Is that a confession?
No, not under our watch.
The groups concerned would have said this.
The Taoiseach will not be able to answer if the Deputy does not give him enough time.
I accept that no one Deputy or leader has a monopoly on empathy or wisdom on the issue.
No, there is joint responsibility.
This should be acknowledged, given that many people have been working very hard at the coalface for a long time. We learn that it does not lend itself to simplistic solutions. Deep issues are on the line regarding how people end up in these situations. Simplistic slogans or responses will not work. The communities raised the issue of a mini Criminal Assets Bureau type intervention. It was noticed that many people involved in the drug trade were noticeably demarcated by the trappings of wealth, although some of them were in receipt of social welfare. The Minister indicated that she would respond favourably to the idea. Will the Taoiseach update us on it?
Deputy Burton raised the point that young people and children in the community affected by the trauma of all that has happened in recent times need ongoing, consistent counselling. Deputy Thomas Byrne raised this with the Minister for Education and Skills. Whatever interventions have taken place, it is important, in the context of the initiative, that we seek to embed in schools a more permanent resource in this area which could be of benefit and value to school-going children and young people. The trauma that has been visited on them is significant and there is probably a need for a more solid, systemic response to it in through education.
I am afraid the Taoiseach has only two and a half minutes to respond.
The terms of reference set out for Kieran Mulvey are very extensive. They specifically include "to engage with and involve local community and public representatives throughout the process; this should include a collaborative review process involving children, young people, parents, professionals and other stakeholders". It is clear that the leadership is within the community. There are fabulous communities in the north inner city. As one person there said to me, less than 1% have given the place a bad name. The purpose of the focus on the north inner city is to create a template that can be transferred to other locations. Chief Superintendent Patrick Leahy runs a great Garda involvement project in the north inner city and I hope the industrial action being mentioned does not take place. I hope the Garda Representative Association, GRA, and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, AGSI, will return to conversation with the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality. We do not need it to happen. The GRA said it would request that the gardaí involved in armed Garda units would not participate in any action, and this means the task force established by the Commissioner under the Government's instructions will be able to do its job.
The Garda Commissioner is overseeing a new Garda special crime task force. It has been in operation since July 2016 and operates in co-ordination with other agencies such as the Revenue Commissioners and the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB. The law is being changed in order that those who have the trappings of wealth from ill-gotten gains from drugs can be apprehended more easily. Operation Hybrid has been in operation and is being reviewed weekly. As of 4 September, more than 40 arrests have been made and five people have been charged in connection with recent shootings. Other deaths have been prevented. There has been an additional €55 million in 2016 for the Garda Síochána to assist in a number of initiatives, including concentrated policing which targets gang crime. There is a dedicated armed unit. Kieran Mulvey's report will be published and he will be in to us next week.
2. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the convening of the Citizens' Assembly. [30290/16]
As Deputies will be aware, the inaugural meeting of the assembly took place last Saturday, 15 October. I attended the meeting to wish the members well in their work. I understand the assembly will meet again on the last weekend in November, at which time it will begin consideration of its first item, the eighth amendment to the Constitution. The website for the assembly is operational and submissions are being invited on its first item, the eighth amendment to the Constitution. A schedule of meetings is also available on the assembly's website, along with a list of the names and county location of the assembly members. The assembly is chaired by a Supreme Court judge, Ms Justice Laffoy. It operates independently of the Government and will report directly to the Houses of the Oireachtas. It decides on all matters relating to its operation, including its rules and procedures, the timing of its meetings and, subject to the resolution passed by the Houses, the prioritisation of its work programme.
At the weekend, I saw the coverage of the opening of the Citizens' Assembly. From a strategic point of view, it seems there are two possible critical outcomes from the work of the assembly. One is that the members of the assembly, who I am told have complete latitude as to what they decide and how they frame their proposals, may propose an amendment to section 8 of the Constitution, which would be put to the people as a fresh amendment. I would like the Taoiseach to indicate whether, in his view, it is within the remit of the Citizens' Assembly to propose a further amendment to the Constitution in respect of the life of the mother and the life of the baby. I would like the Taoiseach to indicate whether this is his view of what may happen. The second recommendation the Citizens' Assembly, in its wisdom, may make is to propose that the eighth amendment should be repealed and that subsequent issues should be dealt with by Dáil Éireann. These are the two critical possibilities arising from the work of the assembly.
The Taoiseach will have heard my colleague and party leader, Deputy Brendan Howlin, raising the issue of rogue pregnancy advice services which are suggesting to women that if they seek a termination, they are at risk of serious illnesses such as breast cancer or that if they have children subsequently, they may abuse them. Most women who read those stories felt very distressed for the women receiving this advice. People are in a difficult situation. It is very personal, emotional and difficult for many people. It is not easy. Nobody would wish it to happen to somebody close to them. The Taoiseach has a political strategy for the Citizens' Assembly. This political strategy is the Taoiseach's prerogative and is understandable. However, this is also about the lives and rights of women and of their partners and families. Are we being led into a cul-de-sac in which we will find a reborn, revised eighth amendment to the Constitution? Will the Taoiseach confirm that the Citizens' Assembly will have the right to propose the repeal of the eighth amendment?
I commend all of those participating at the Citizens' Assembly. I welcome Ms Justice Laffoy's statement that the assembly's work will be open and transparent. The Taoiseach will recall that, when the Constitutional Convention was being put in place, Sinn Féin made a full proposition to the Government that would have reshaped our Constitution for a future Ireland and re-imagined the Ireland of tomorrow. Of course, the Government did not go with it. However, the Constitutional Convention worked. The Government still has to act on some of its recommendations. The Citizens' Assembly is a less effective structure. The Government has insisted on that structure. There is no political representation and there are no voices from the North. There has been no explanation for the latter failure. It is wrong that we should be partitionist in our approach to these issues. I have raised this matter with the Taoiseach previously. It is a serious mistake.
There is speculation that the discussion on the eighth amendment could take six months before the matter is returned to an Oireachtas committee and that the report of the assembly might not be with the Oireachtas until next June. If so, a final decision by the Dáil on whether there will be a referendum on repealing the eighth amendment could be a year away. I firmly believe that the Government's approach is one of delaying a referendum and the type of legislation that would be required. Let me be clear in that Sinn Féin will campaign for the repeal of the eighth amendment and for legislation to be enacted in order to allow for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest. That is what we were sent here, paid and mandated to do. Will the Taoiseach provide greater clarity on the timeframe for the assembly's report on the eighth amendment coming to the Oireachtas?
Similarly, the Green Party has concerns that a report on this issue arriving in June would constitute a long process. Does the Taoiseach consider that it could be done sooner than the indicative timeline reported at the weekend? Will the Taoiseach outline the mechanism for Oireachtas Members to access some of the information that the Citizens' Assembly is getting while the process is under way so that we do not arrive at the point of having a debate in the Chamber in the absence of our having been informed of the evidence, presentations and submissions? It is important that Members be involved, if not directly in the assembly, and kept up to speed with what is happening.
Will the same people who have been selected for this part of the assembly be expected to carry on with further aspects of its work or will they be given honourable discharges and a new set of people appointed? What is envisaged will be a difficult task for any citizen to carry out. Is it expected that the same people will continue in the other branches of the assembly's work?
First of all, this matter has divided Irish society on many occasions in the past. Nobody under 50 years of age has actually voted on this question. I have no intention of presuming to know what the Citizens' Assembly will recommend or the proposals with which it may come forward. Who are the members of the Citizens' Assembly? They are ordinary men and women from all over the country, chosen at random by a polling company that tendered for the work on the basis of region, gender, age and so on. They are all ordinary people. They are tasked, under the direction of Ms Justice Laffoy, to consider the eighth amendment of the Constitution. They will go through that, I am quite sure, in great detail.
Is this process open? Yes. It is all streamed live. Can anybody from around the world make a submission to it? Yes, people can, including those from Northern Ireland.
The work of the assembly will be quite intensive, I would think, over a number of weekends when it starts to discuss the various elements of the eighth amendment. There are more than two possible outcomes, Deputy Burton. There are at least six different options that could be chosen, depending on the Citizens' Assembly and what it wants to do. I want to be clear on this - there is no political direction being given to it and there is no political cul-de-sac being put in place. Nobody under 50 years of age has voted on this issue in Ireland. It is something that obviously will create its own divisions again in our society as these discussions take place, but the Citizens' Assembly will not be making the decision. That will come back to the legislators here.
It is not for me to say whether Ms Justice Laffoy and the assembly will finish their work on the eighth amendment inside four months or five months. Ms Justice Laffoy, an esteemed member of the Supreme Court, said that she would hope to report to the Oireachtas. It is to the Oireachtas that the assembly will report, not the Government. The Oireachtas has approved the mandate for the Citizens' Assembly to do its work. I think that is a very valuable thing. The question of the eighth amendment is one that requires rational, commonsensical, comprehensive and sensitive discussion. These ordinary people from all over the country will bring that to bear in their discussions.
To answer Deputy Eamon Ryan, I do not see any reason at all for the information that is made available to the assembly to be kept from public representatives in any way. It should all be public. Is that not what this is about? It is a Citizens' Assembly and, therefore, the information being made available to it should be available to everybody so that the national conversation about this issue can be held in a proper manner. In that sense, we do not want to have a situation where people feel excluded in any way. The proceedings of the assembly are streamed live. It is wide open and transparent. It is under the command of a very experienced Supreme Court judge. I do not believe, Deputy Adams, that it is in any way less effective than the previous citizens convention, which did include politicians and which ordinary people were a bit shy of in the beginning until they got an understanding of the work that could be involved. Whatever recommendations and whatever proposals come from the Citizens' Assembly will come back to this Legislature because it is to the Oireachtas that the assembly will report. It will not report to me or the Government, it will report to the Oireachtas. This is the people's issue. It is a national issue. As the Deputy knows, not a comma, full stop, word or line of the Constitution can be changed without the people's imprimatur.
I wished those participating at the assembly the very best in their contributions, thanked them for their commitment and their time in a voluntary capacity, thanked them for their courage and made a specific appeal, given that it is the first time that this issue has been dealt with in the age of digital communication, that those who appear on social media should allow these people the respect and time to give of their views on a sensitive issue in a way that we would all think fitting and to remember that remarks made on social media about comments being made by the Citizens' Assembly can sometimes have a devastating effect on people themselves. These are ordinary citizens chosen at random, willing and wishing to give of their participation in addressing a national issue. I hope that they are given the time and respect to do that in a way that they want to.
Only ten seconds remain.
I just want to ask a brief follow-up question. I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. It expanded our knowledge.
Time is up.
This is the first that I have learned of there being six options.
It behoves the Taoiseach to explain to us the six options. It is important and significant that the Taoiseach rightly said that the report of the assembly is to the Oireachtas. However, the Taoiseach addressed the assembly without the presence, as far as I am aware, of any other Members or representative group from the Oireachtas. Has the Taoiseach had the opportunity to meet, brief or be briefed by the judge in charge of the convention? As a matter of urgency, we must know the six options the Taoiseach referred to.
The Taoiseach will have to find another time-----
I will not.
We are a minute over time in this slot and depriving Deputy Adams of his time.
It is pretty urgent for the women in Ireland.
We need to hear this.
There are not just six options. There are at least six options that could be considered. I am not going into that because it is not my remit. This is a function of the Citizens' Assembly. I have not been briefed by the Supreme Court judge other than to have a brief conversation with her before the assembly commenced. She is entirely in charge of it and it is in very capable hands. I know she will do a first-class job. She called the members together at 2 p.m. after the formal opening, commenced proceedings and explained what is required and how they should go about their business. There are many options that could be considered but they are all for the Citizens' Assembly to consider. The information is available and proceedings are streamed live. Anybody can make contributions. It comes back to the Oireachtas and not the Government.
3. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee on justice reform last met. [30554/16]
The Cabinet committee on justice reform last met on 6 July 2016. The date for its next meeting has not been scheduled but it will take place shortly.
Am I right in saying this is October?
Yes. Next month is November.
This very important sub-committee has not met since July and there are ongoing controversies and allegations about a concerted campaign within An Garda Síochána to discredit a whistleblower. We have a very senior former head of the Garda press office saying there was an organised campaign in senior Garda management to destroy the reputation of one of these whistleblowers. As I understand it, he is properly admitting his role in this and also implicating other senior managers, including, apparently, the Garda Commissioner. The Garda Commissioner has denied these claims but it is claimed that Superintendent Taylor believes the text messages on his phone will prove the existence of this campaign. That is a big issue.
I know Mr. Justice O'Neill has been appointed by the Minister to review all this but are we sure the relevant information relating to this review will be made available? In particular, will there be access to Superintendent Taylor's phone? I am sure the Taoiseach accepts that this comes on the back of ongoing controversies, as many as five reports, the resignation of a Minister and, as the Taoiseach rather eloquently put it, the retirement of a former Garda Commissioner. Does the Taoiseach accept that all of this could deter other potential whistleblowers coming forward, which is not good for Garda morale or public confidence? Will the Taoiseach give us some indication around the terms of reference for Mr. Justice O'Neill and whether he will have this information? Will he give a firm commitment to the Dáil to publish this report immediately and hold a Dáil debate on it?
There is also the big issue of the impending strike by An Garda Síochána. I welcome the news that the Minister for Justice and Equality is to fast-track the process for giving the Garda access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. That is good but if I understand it properly, this will require new legislation. If this report is true, when will the Government publish the legislation? Will it be put in place so there is a chance of averting this strike?
I raised the following matter consistently. We took issue with the Government retaining the power to appoint the Garda Commissioner and the deputy Garda commissioner. Under the policing Act of 2015 the Policing Authority is supposed to have responsibility for the appointment of assistant commissioners, chief superintendents and superintendents, and in May the Government appointed four of the eight vacancies at assistant Garda commissioner level. In July it appointed ten chief superintendents and 18 superintendents. The chair of the Policing Authority has told the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality of her disappointment at the Government's failure to hand over the powers to appoint senior officers.
When were these decisions taken and what role does the Cabinet committee on justice reform have? These are supposed to be issues of reform and yet the Government clings to these powers, contrary to all the high-sounding rhetoric we had in the past. Will the Government pass this over to the Policing Authority and, if so, when will it do so? If not, why not?
The Cabinet sub-committee discusses a range of issues relating to the Garda, policing and crime in general, making its recommendations or dealing with requests from the Minister for Justice and Equality of the day, who is the Tánaiste in this case. As Deputy Adams is aware, under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, a worker employed in a public body may make a protected disclosure to a Minister in the Government on whom any function relating to that public body is conferred. On 3 October this year, the Tánaiste received correspondence under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 from two members of An Garda Síochána. Under that Act, the Tánaiste may say nothing publicly that might identify the persons making the disclosures. She cannot comment on the accuracy or otherwise of reports appearing in the media about the nature of the disclosures. It is vital that the claims of people making such disclosures are properly addressed. It is also important to ensure the rights of individuals like this to fairness and proper procedures are prepared for. Deputy Adams is aware of that.
Having consulted the Attorney General, the Tánaiste asked Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill, a former judge of the High Court, having regard to the provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, to review the allegations of wrongdoing that were contained in the disclosures. That included making any inquiries with the persons or bodies that he considers appropriate with respect to the review; reporting to the Tánaiste within six weeks on the conclusions of the review, including any recommendations that he may consider necessary on any further action that may be appropriate and warranted arising from the allegations made; and that on the conclusion of the review, the Tánaiste will consider what further steps may be necessary. That is the process and it relates to a very specific section of a very specific Act for very good reasons. Whistleblowers perform a very important function in the public interest and they must be respected and protected when giving their disclosures. That is why the legislation is the way it is.
The Deputy mentioned the Policing Authority and referred to its powers. This brings a dedicated layer of public oversight to the administration of policing services and it also provides a new engine to drive reforms of the policing system and practices in order that the Garda Síochána can be seen to be fit to deal with emerging challenges of policing in the 21st century.
There are several important points to note here. The Policing Authority is responsible for approving a three-year strategy statement and the annual policing plan submitted by the Garda Commissioner. The authority must establish and publish within 12 months - that is, by the end of 2016 - a code of ethics that includes standards of conduct and practice for members of An Garda Síochána. The authority will hold at least quarterly meetings in public. As the Deputy knows, a fourth public meeting for 2016 took place on 29 September. The authority is enabled to request the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to investigate any policing matter which gives rise to a concern that a member of the Garda may have committed an offence or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings. The authority may, subject to the consent of the Minister, request GSOC to investigate any behaviour of the Garda Commissioner in the context of his or her functions relating to policing matters, examine procedures or practices of the Garda in regard to policing matters in general, and request, as deemed necessary, the Garda Inspectorate to initiate an inspection or inquiry in respect of aspects of the operation or administration of the Garda.
The Policing Authority, therefore, has significant powers. It can hold the Garda to account, with senior Garda management reporting to the authority, including via public meetings. It may determine Garda priorities in respect of policing services. It may nominate persons for appointment by the Government to the posts of Garda Commissioner and deputy Garda commissioner. It will appoint persons to the ranks of Garda superintendent, chief superintendent and assistant commissioner, and may remove them for reasons related to policing services. It may appoint persons to senior positions within the Garda civilian staff. The Policing Authority takes up those responsibilities following the last appointments that were made.
The Garda Commissioner does not account to the Policing Authority on national security issues, the latter being a function of Government. Under the new oversight arrangements, the Garda Commissioner will report to the Policing Authority in respect of policing matters and to the Minister for Justice and Equality on security matters.
I am aware of the powers of the Policing Authority. Indeed, Sinn Féin made a detailed submission to the Government at the time of the authority's establishment based on our experience of the Patten commission on police reform in the North. My question in this regard was very specific. The Taoiseach may have given me the answer in the midst of the other verbiage he delivered but, if so, I did not pick up on it. I asked about the situation whereby the Government still retains the authority to appoint senior officers to the Garda Síochána when that power should have passed to the Policing Authority. The chairperson of the authority has expressed her disappointment at the Government's failure to implement that transfer of powers.
The other question I asked, which the Taoiseach ignored, concerns media reports that the Minister for Justice and Equality is to fast-track the process for giving members of the Garda access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. If the reports are accurate, they are welcome. I asked when the legislation I presume is required to allow this will be published and if it will be enacted in a timely fashion so that it can be used to avert the threatened strike.
The Government's position in this matter is clear, namely, that we intend to transfer the authority to make appointments to senior positions within the Garda to the Policing Authority.
It has not been done.
No appointments have been made in the recent past by Government to the higher ranks of the Garda in the way that used to pertain.
What about the appointments made in May and July?
As I understand it, that function has been transferred but I will clarify it for the Deputy. It is one of the critical functions of the Policing Authority to be independent of anything to do with Government.
Regarding threatened strike action by members of the Garda, I have heard claims that the John Horgan report, which is due very shortly, might not be available to the public pay commission, which Government approved yesterday, if the commission decided to have particular expertise made available to it in drafting a report in respect of, for instance, the pay and conditions of gardaí, teachers, nurses and so on. I wish to clarify that Professor Horgan's report will of course be available to the commission. We are waiting to see how the professor might set out what he considers to be the appropriate strategy to adopt to allow for the principle of access to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court for members of An Garda Síochána. If that is his recommendation and he points out how it should be done, the Minister for Justice and Equality will, I assume, act very quickly on it.
Did Deputy Adams's reference to an expression of disappointment by a chairperson refer to the chairperson of the Policing Authority or the chairperson of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission?
I referred to the chairperson of the Policing Authority.
I have dealt with that. In respect of GSOC, I noted the view expressed by its very fine chairperson, Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring, that some powers were lacking in the ombudsman commission. I have spoken to the Minister for Justice and Equality about this and see no reason we cannot act in this regard. If the chairperson of the commission, who is an eminent member of the Judiciary, says it needs particular powers in a certain area, there is no reason those powers should not be transferred. After all, GSOC is an independent body set up by Government for a specific purpose. As such, it should be given every opportunity to do its work.