I think the Taoiseach will agree that An Garda Síochána is central to our democracy and to the security of our State. Over recent years, unfortunately, the force has been mired in scandal and debacle, lowering morale and confidence within the force. We have had the whistleblowers' stories, the penalty points, the malpractice, the phone recordings, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, bugging, the 1 million fake breathalyser tests and, of course, the fixed charge notices which resulted in many thousands of people being wrongly charged. Now we have had very damning revelations pertaining to Templemore Garda College and the whole issue around the 42 bank accounts and the complete breach of procedures, law and accountability, which is an extraordinary story in itself.
The revelations of the director of human resources, John Barrett, are particularly damning about the culture that has protected this edifice for so long and the inaction of the senior management of An Garda Síochána, including the Garda Commissioner, in dealing with this issue in a transparent, accountable and effective way. Mr. Barrett met the Commissioner and other senior members of the force in July 2015. It was a two hour meeting, as far as he and others have testified, but in addition to that, it was clear that the head of legal affairs in An Garda Síochána, Mr. Ken Ruane, had written to the Commissioner stating that she had a legal obligation under section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act to make a section 41 report to the Minister. Section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act is very clear that significant developments that might reasonably be expected adversely to affect public confidence in the Garda Síochána should be notified to the Minister. That did not happen, even though the Garda Commissioner was given written notice by the head of legal affairs to do that, given all that had transpired in regard to Templemore Garda College.
Does the Taoiseach accept the Garda Commissioner did not discharge her legal obligations to inform the Minister for Justice and Equality of significant developments that would clearly adversely affect public confidence in An Garda Síochána, namely, the issues relating to Templemore?
It took 15 months from the date of being told she should do it by her legal adviser to having the Minister informed. Is that good enough? Could the Taoiseach indicate what the Minister for Justice and Equality has to say about this? Will the Minister come into this House and make a statement on these issues, and on that specific matter? Why would the Commissioner tell the Minister at that time? What is the issue? What was the problem? In the light of all that, do the Taoiseach and the Government still have confidence in the Garda Commissioner to discharge her duties and manage the Garda out of this series of debacles?