Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017

Vol. 962 No. 6

Priority Questions

Magdalen Laundries

Jim O'Callaghan


38. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps his Department plans to take on foot of the recommendations of the Ombudsman’s report on the Magdalene restorative justice scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51989/17]

The Minister will be aware that less than two weeks ago the Ombudsman published his report, entitled Opportunity Lost, on the administration of the Magdalen restorative justice scheme. Unfortunately, the report concludes that the manner in which the scheme has been administered by the Department constitutes maladministration within the meaning of section 4 of the Ombudsman Act 1980 as amended. Following the launch of the report, the Minister stated that full and careful consideration would now be given to all the recommendations in the report. I would like to know what the Minister intends to do about it.

As I have previously indicated, both I and my Department are giving full and detailed consideration to each of the four recommendations made by the Ombudsman in his report published on 23 November.

It is important to note that the existing scheme remains open. To date, 684 applicants to the Magdalen scheme have received their ex gratia payments from my Department's Vote at a cost of over €25 million.

The terms of the scheme recommended to Government by Mr. Justice Quirke included the payment of lump sums in a range from €11,500 to €100,000, special access to health care, upgrading of pension entitlements to the full State pension for those who had reached retirement age and the payment of a weekly sum of €100, inclusive of other State payments to others.

The Ombudsman has recommended that women who lack capacity should be made wards of court. I can inform the Deputy that this policy was already being pursued by the Department, which is now considering whether any further measures can be taken in this regard in the light of the details of the Ombudsman's recommendation. It was recommended that there should be a review of any cases where there has been a dispute over length of stay.  No particular difficulty is foreseen with this recommendation and my Department is exploring the options for conducting such a review. It was further recommended that guidance should be developed centrally on future restorative justice or redress schemes and my Department will be pursuing this recommendation with the Departments likely to be responsible for any such schemes.

The recommendation of the Ombudsman to include certain industrial schools and training centres within the scheme, notwithstanding the fact that applicants may have already received payments under the residential institutions redress scheme, raises a number of issues. I am sure Deputy O'Callaghan will agree that these are matters of some substance. As part of the consideration of this recommendation, my Department is seeking to clarify all the issues concerned and will assess the administrative, resource and legal implications.

We can all agree that the incarceration of women in Magdalen laundries was one of the most shameful periods of Irish history. It reflected badly on all aspects of Irish society. However, on 19 February 2013, it looked like we had turned over a new leaf with the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, issuing a public and heartfelt apology on behalf of the State to the women who were incarcerated. After that, a scheme was established for the purpose of facilitating compensation for these women. Such compensation was small, reflective not of the extent of their suffering but of the fact that the State recognised that it had done wrong.

When one looks at the criticisms in the report prepared by the Ombudsman, it is very clear that there are significant failings in the scheme. We note that the Department operated on the basis that only women who could demonstrate through available records that they had been officially recorded as having been admitted to one of the 12 named institutions were eligible. We need to stop relying upon the reports of the institutions themselves and to take into account the evidence of the women. We also note that the report was critical of the Department's over reliance on the records of the congregations and that applicants fared better when they had greater capacity to pursue their application and to suggest avenues for research. We need to ensure that all individuals who were incarcerated and who were the victims of this shameful period in our history are eligible for the scheme.

I ask the Minister to outline when the four recommendations of the Ombudsman will be implemented.

I can assure the Deputy that the matter is receiving ongoing, due and careful consideration. While I acknowledge that the Ombudsman's report was critical, I must also say that I have been told that the scheme was administered by the staff of the Department of Justice and Equality with compassion and unstinting dedication. Staff of the Department have been praised on a regular basis by applicants for the manner in which they have undertaken their work in order to ensure that issues were dealt with properly.

The principal recommendation is that my Department should fully reconsider, with a view towards admitting to the scheme, the application of any woman who worked in one of the listed laundries but was not officially recorded as having been admitted to a training centre or industrial school located in the same building, attached to or located on the grounds of one of the laundries. Deputy O'Callaghan will accept that a series of issues arises as to the scope, purpose and administration of the scheme. The question of double payments arises because the recommendation of the Ombudsman refers to applications already received from women who were in a training or industrial school located on the same grounds as one of the 12 named institutions. However, I wish to assure the House that all of these issues are under consideration with a view to having matters resolved at the earliest opportunity. I would be happy to keep both the Deputy and the House fully informed but these are not issues that can be dealt with overnight.

One of the proposals that the Ombudsman has reluctantly accepted is the one from the Department that women who lack capacity should be made wards of court. However, it is important that we do not allow that process to proceed in a very slow and difficult manner from the point of view of the applicants. I suggest that the Minister proactively provides practical support to those women who are seeking to be made wards of court so that their applications can be made promptly. The Department should work closely with the Courts Service to ensure that any wardship applications are processed in a timely and sensitive manner. Otherwise, the wardship application process will drag on. In many instances we are talking about women who are in their elder years and they need to have this process finalised as soon as possible. The State should be assisting them with their wards of court applications.

In order to ensure that any future restorative justice or redress schemes benefit from the learning from the operation of this and other schemes, guidance should be produced in respect of the development and operation of such schemes generally.

To date, 830 applications have been received and of these, 694 have been paid an award. A total of 106 applications were refused because the applicants were not admitted to and working in one of the 12 named institutions covered by the scheme.

The Deputy raises the issue of lack of capacity in particular. I readily accept that there has been a delay in making payments to certain women where there have been issues as to capacity and vulnerability. In some cases the applicants were vulnerable to a form of financial exploitation. In that context, the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act is relevant. It was felt that the passage of the then Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill in 2015 would provide an appropriate vehicle but new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the decision support service within the Mental Health Commission, must be in place before the substantive provisions of the Act can be commenced. That said, I have noted what Deputy O'Callaghan has said and wish to assure the House that every effort will be made to deal with the recommendations of the Ombudsman. I am happy to report progress as matters are addressed.

Garda Commissioner Appointment

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


39. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the appointment process for the position of Garda Commissioner; if he has considered the concerns expressed by the Commission on the Future of Policing about making such an appointment before the commission has finished its work; and his further views on whether it might be premature to make such an appointment before that process is completed. [51979/17]

My question relates to the Commission on the Future of Policing. The Minister and his Government have put a great deal of store by the commission in terms of the reform of policing and justice more generally and in its ability to deliver significant change. If the commission is to deliver the kind of change hoped for by the Government, it is essential that it be given the proper space and time it deserves to finish its deliberations.

The Policing Authority under section 9 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, has responsibility for nominating persons for appointment by the Government to the post of Garda Commissioner.  In the meantime, we have an excellent acting Commissioner in Dónall Ó Cualáin who is exercising the full powers of a Garda Commissioner.

This will be the first time that the new legislative process is utilised and I have consulted with the chair of the authority about a process to identify and appoint a permanent Commissioner to An Garda Síochána. We are agreed that it is crucial that a deliberate and considered recruitment process takes place so that the best possible candidate is appointed following a selection process. We are also agreed that an excessive delay in the appointment of a new Commissioner would not be optimal for the organisation in terms of performance and morale.

As I have previously stated the authority has, over the past number of months, undertaken some essential ground work for the recruitment process in advance of the formal triggering of the statutory process by Government. This work has included the conduct of some research into aspects of the appointment process and engagement with my Department and with the Public Appointments Service which will undertake the competition on behalf of the Policing Authority.

Having regard to the progress made by the authority I would expect that the Government will be in a position to formally approve the authority issuing an invitation to the Public Appointments Service to conduct the selection process very shortly. Once this is done, I would anticipate that it could take up to six months to identify and appoint a successful candidate. In the interim I have authorised a deputy Commissioner to exercise all of the functions of the Garda Commissioner during the term of the vacancy.

As the Deputy is aware, the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is undertaking a comprehensive review of all aspects of policing in the State and is not due to complete its work until September next. I am sure the Deputy will agree that it would not be in the public interest, or in the interests of An Garda Síochána as an organisation or its members, to allow uncertainty to surround the leadership of the national police service for such a lengthy period.

Sinn Féin has long been of the view that what we need in the South is a Patten-type approach which was so central to the reform of policing in the North. It is in that context that we welcome the establishment of the Policing Authority, for which we had long called, and the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. If there is to be the Patten-type shift that apparently is desired by all, including the Government, the commission needs to be given full scope to consider all of the matters in question. They include what role the Garda Commissioner and senior staff in An Garda Síochána should have.

The Minister's response confirms what I received in response to a written question a number of weeks ago. The commission is to finalise its work in September 2019. It is likely to be six months from a point a number of weeks from now before a Garda Commissioner will be appointed; therefore, realistically we are talking about June or July next year when a Commissioner will be appointed. Within weeks of that happening, the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland will come forward with its report which potentially will contain radically different proposals for the role of the Commissioner, thus creating greater uncertainty. It is my view that the full scope of the role will be better understood once the commission has completed its work.

I am not sure I agree with the Deputy's contention. It is important to bring certainly to this issue at the earliest opportunity. I acknowledge that the commission is not due to complete its work until September, but I am sure the Deputy will agree that it would not be in the public interest, or in the interests of An Garda Síochána or its members, to allow uncertainty to surround its leadership for such a lengthy period. From my engagement with the chairperson of the commission, Ms Kathleen O'Toole, I know that she shares my concern that a careful and deliberative process be taken to the recruitment process in order that the best possible candidate will be selected and also my concern that the process not be prolonged beyond what I would regard as being a reasonable timeframe. I welcome the willingness on her part to bring the commission's wealth of experience and expertise to the process being undertaken by the Policing Authority. I know that there has been contact between the two bodies, which I welcome. The approach I have outlined has allowed the authority to engage with the commission on how the future role and responsibilities of the Garda Commissioner. As I said to the Deputy, this will assist in ensuring potential candidates will have as much information as possible on the future landscape and the role and functions of the Garda Commissioner.

It is anticipated that the process will begin in a matter of weeks, before or around the time the call is made for submissions on the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. What is not in the public interest is what is probably the most crucial appointment of a Garda Commissioner in the almost 100-year history of An Garda Síochána not being approached in the right way. It is essential to get the appointment right and if the Government is serious about the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland - I believe this is the test - we need to get the appointment right.

The chairperson of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland wrote to the Minister and the Policing Authority about this matter and said it was unlikely a credible candidate would come forward and apply for the role when there was so much uncertainty hanging over the future of the Garda and the Commissioner's role. As I understand it, she also wrote that so much change was required that it would not be possible to draw up accurately a specification for the role of Garda Commissioner before the group's recommendations were published next September. Furthermore, she maintained that it would be a serious mistake if a Garda Commissioner was appointed without clarity on what the job would entail. This is a crucial appointment and it would be a serious error by the Minister and the Department if they were to proceed with it before this job of work was completed. If we are serious about the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and its ability to transform policing and justice, we should wait and see what it has to state.

I advise the Deputy, as I did in the context of my earlier reply, that the process has moved on somewhat. In recent days the Policing Authority submitted its assessment of the package that will be required to attract candidates of the desired calibre. It has engaged external expertise in that regard. It has also submitted its views on the pool of candidates available and whether eligibility should be limited in any way. Its views will, of course, be taken into full consideration by the Government. At this stage, it is anticipated that Government approval will be sought to formally trigger section 9. That will take place before the end of the year in tandem with the granting of approval for certain policy choices concerning the requirement for the appointment of a Commissioner.

On the timeline which I understand is the issue being raised by the Deputy, both the Policing Authority and the Public Appointments Service have in recent days advised that the selection process will take in the region of six months to complete, that is, from the granting of Government approval to trigger section 9 to the Public Appointments Service submitting the name of the successful candidate to the Policing Authority. The authority will then, under law, have to consider whether it is satisfied about the person's suitability and then make a nomination to the Government. Having regard to the fact that the acting Commissioner is operating with the full powers available under law to the Garda Commissioner, in the context of the future of An Garda Síochána and the reform programme under way, any inordinate delay would not be in the best interests of the police service.

Garda Training

Jim O'Callaghan


40. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent of training and continuous professional development provided for members of An Garda Síochána when amending or new legislation is passed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51990/17]

Being a member of An Garda Síochána is an extremely demanding and professional job and it is not comparable to the job performed by members, say, 30 or 40 years ago. Part of the reason for this is the vast array of legislation that passes through the Houses. It is even difficult for lawyers to keep up with the amount of law being generated, not just in the Houses but also in the European Union. Obviously, gardaí need to have knowledge of the law. What is being done to provide training for or for the continuous professional development of members of An Garda Síochána?

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who has statutory responsibility for arranging for the training of personnel and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. I am informed by the Commissioner that each Garda division has a continuous professional development school which provides for professional development on a variety of topics and issues, ranging from procedural to legislative changes and the implementation of new initiatives.  The Garda College also designs and delivers a range of professional development programmes for members of An Garda Síochána, including leadership, management, applied skills and crime training.

The Commissioner's modernisation and renewal programme for the period 2016 to 2021 which is under way recognises that it is critical that all personnel are kept up to date on relevant policies and changes in the law and that continuous professional development must be a constant within An Garda Síochána. I have been informed by the Commissioner that, as part of this programme, investment in learning and development in An Garda Síochána will be enhanced in order that all personnel will receive the training, mentoring and leadership development they require to continue to develop their skills in order that they can perform more effectively in their roles and will be in a position to progress and advance their careers.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Crowe Horwath report on mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints and fixed-charge notices emphasised the need for mechanisms and training for informing and updating Garda personnel on developments in legislation and changes to the systems and procedures for processing the notices and all other offences.  In addition, the Policing Authority, in its third progress report on the implementation of the Garda Inspectorate's report, highlighted the lack of an organisational training strategy in An Garda Síochána. In that regard, I understand the preparation of a learning and development policy for all Garda personnel is at an advanced stage and expected to be published early next year. I fully expect the development of this policy to facilitate an examination of whether further enhancements are required to the mechanisms in place for informing and updating Garda personnel on developments in legislation, practice, procedures and system changes.

I am conscious of the fact that it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the training of personnel. I am also aware that the Policing Authority has a crucial role to play in changing the manner in which training in the Garda is amended. Notwithstanding that, it is important that the Minister and the Department play a part in emphasising the need to ensure that there is greater training within the force to deal with the vast array of legislation that is coming down the tracks.

As the Minister mentioned, the Crowe Horwath report found that a fundamental cause of the errors in the mandatory intoxicant testing was the lack of appropriate, timely and effective training for gardaí in the processing of road traffic offences. In fairness to members of the Garda, that is not surprising. Road traffic law changes with considerable frequency and road traffic Bills pass through the House regularly, and gardaí are responsible for ensuring that a new law, as introduced, is applied on the ground. For that reason, it is important that the Government recognises, and the Department emphasises, the requirement for there to be greater ongoing training on that matter. I do not know whether the Minister believes there is a requirement for him to emphasise the need for that training or for legislation to emphasise it.

Yes. While I do not have a direct role in the provision of training, I am conscious of my role as Minister in exhorting and advising that the various training options are adequately resourced and duly taken up by gardaí. In this regard, all gardaí recruited since the reopening of the Garda College in Templemore in September 2014 have undertaken a two-year training programme, leading to a BA in applied policing accredited by UL. Participants are required to sit and pass mandatory academic examinations and professional assessments if they are to progress to the conclusion of their programme. I am advised by the acting Commissioner that the provision of material to Garda trainees within this programme is constantly monitored and reviewed by staff in the Garda.

As to gardaí who work in stations, it is appropriate and essential that there be opportunities for training and retraining, particularly in the context of the changing environment of legislation processed in the House as well as our investment in ICT systems and, recently, the fleet. In light of this and the Crowe Horwath report, every effort must be made to ensure proper and adequate training in the Garda.

One of the advantages of formalising training to a greater extent than it is now is that it would encourage gardaí to develop expertise in individual areas. We might find that gardaí wish to emphasise and grow their expertise in particular areas.

I noted the Minister's comments on the House not being responsible for training gardaí, but we could make their lives simpler. For instance, the Road Traffic Acts are all over the place. There are so many pieces of legislation. We need to try to consolidate them. It would make the life of a garda much easier if we had a simplified, consolidated Road Traffic Act that concisely and precisely set out the law on road traffic offences as opposed to having to look up whether, for example, the 2003 Act was amended by a 2013 Act. We have a responsibility, not just to ensure that there is greater training, but to ensure that the legislation, which is primarily used by the Garda, is more easily digestible by its members.

I will say something about this from facts within my own knowledge. One of the earliest publications that I acquired in my District Court practice some years ago was an up-to-date copy of the Garda Síochána guide, which was specifically designed to assist gardaí in prosecutions. It was so good that it was also a vital publication for those engaging in defence matters, as I am sure Deputy O'Callaghan will be aware.

I wish to state the importance of the Garda College in delivering a training programme for new recruits and providing continuing professional development, CPD. There is always a benefit in taking stock to see whether things can be done in a better or different way. In this regard, the Commission on the Future of Policing is examining all aspects of policing in the State, including training. I understand that commission members recently met people in UL. They also had an opportunity to visit the Garda College as part of their work. The commission is due to report in September 2018. If it is in a position to make recommendations on training or CPD prior to that date, I will be more than happy to receive those and have them considered by the House.

Departmental Reform

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


41. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the implementation of the Toland report and the need for comprehensive reform of his Department; his further views on whether structural and cultural reform is required in his Department; and his plans for same. [51980/17]

Seán Sherlock


42. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the recommendations of the Toland report will be implemented. [51992/17]

Revelations in recent weeks have raised serious questions about the Department of Justice and Equality, its culture, its fitness for purpose and the need for a structural reform that takes in, but is not limited to, the Toland report and the reforms outlined therein. Will the Minister outline how he intends to reform the Department and implement this report?

Are we taking my question now as well?

Yes. I will take a first supplementary question, then Deputy Howlin, and then Deputies Ó Laoghaire and Howlin again. Deputy Howlin will have two questions.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 42 together.

Following the Toland review in 2014, the Department of Justice and Equality began a process of consultation and engagement to develop a delivery plan to implement the recommendations. I am informed that approximately 80% of those have since been implemented. As the Taoiseach outlined to the House last week, a change implementation group is to be appointed to assess the implementation of the Toland report and to provide continued external oversight of progress on this and any other measure that it deems appropriate. I expect the terms of reference and membership of this group to be finalised in the next week.

The Toland report recognised that one of the key strengths of the Department was the "willingness, flexibility and can-do attitude of many of its loyal staff" as well as the experience and depth of knowledge across a complex range of issues. Since my appointment as Minister, I have found the management and staff in the Department and across the justice and equality sectors to be capable, adaptable and fully committed to public service.

Change is a continuous process and, in keeping with best international practice, my Department contracted external management experts earlier this year to undertake a stock-take of progress to date and assist the Department's management board in prioritising further reform measures for the next three years.

The Deputies will be aware that the culture of the Department has been highlighted as a key area requiring reform. I understand that, following a wide-ranging consultation with staff and external stakeholders, a culture and values charter was published in 2016 with the objective of fostering a more outward facing, listening organisational culture. These values form the core of all induction and leadership training with a view to informing the way in which the Department engages with the public, staff and stakeholders. Work is ongoing to ensure that this continues to be embedded in the organisation. A positive outcome of the response to the Toland report is an increasing engagement with internal and external stakeholders, including the justice committee of these Houses.

I have outlined my concerns to the House about the sheer scale and breadth of the Department's responsibilities. The Toland report recognised this and called for a detailed analysis with a view towards dividing the Department. This analysis was conducted by external experts in 2016 and this year and concluded that such a restructuring should be progressed. I welcome and support this process.

I envisage that the stock-take process, which has been in train since my appointment in the summer, and the structures review will be helpful to the work of the change implementation group. I intend to support the management and all in the Department fully in completing this challenging change agenda.

As I said last week when responding to questions, I would be happy to keep the House fully informed of developments in this regard by way of progress reports or otherwise, for example, in plenary form if Deputies believe it appropriate to do so or if they feel it would be better addressed by me at the justice committee.

The Toland report, published in 2014, followed much of the same kind of controversies which An Garda Síochána and the Department found themselves in at that stage. The report found there to be a closed, secretive and silo-driven culture and that there was a deferential relationship with An Garda Síochána, with a lack of proper strategic accountability being brought to bear on it by the Department. Unfortunately, the developments of recent months confirm that is still very much the case. The revelations were extraordinary.

The Minister has outlined that there are many committed staff. However, there are still issues with culture and structure, something which became apparent following the developments of recent weeks. I do not find it credible that the emails which were the source of so much controversy were not found by the scoping exercise carried out by Iarfhlaith O'Neill or the discovery order from Charleton. I find extraordinary that the email which was discovered on 9 November was only brought to the attention of the Minister on 13 November and read much later. In the context of the culture and the Department, is it acceptable that the Department allowed the Taoiseach to put the wrong information on the Dáil record three times over the course of scarcely a week?

A process is under way, to which the Taoiseach referred earlier. An investigation is about to commence, headed by an eminent senior counsel with experience, which will deal with the issues raised by the Deputy. Further to that, a report setting out progress on the implementation of the Toland report will be furnished to the Taoiseach and, I am sure, will be available to the House.

I met with the management board in my Department on Wednesday. Where appropriate, new or revised protocols were agreed which would support my office and the management of the business of the Department, in particular the bringing of matters to my direct attention and that of my office in a way which can be regarded as appropriate and timely. There is a shared understanding of the urgent need and commitment to restore confidence across the sector, as well as an awareness of the challenges in so doing. The challenges were adverted to by Toland.

The work of the change and implementation group will involve reviewing progress and advising on the next steps needed, including communications, organisational culture and the relationship with An Garda Síochána

The Minister will recall that the Toland group was set up by a Government of which we were both members to deal with fundamental issues of concern in the Department of Justice and Equality. I listened with some dismay to the initial response from the Minister. The five issues the independent review group first identified were a closed, secretive, silo-driven culture; significant leadership and management problems; ineffective management processes and structures; a management advisory committee which was not sufficiently focused on key strategic priorities and their impact on the Department or its key agencies; and that relationships with key agencies tended to be informal, unstructured and without strong management. In terms of findings, they are damning.

The notion that since 2014 80% of the Toland recommendations have been implemented, given what we have gone through in the past couple of weeks, beggars belief. We have had an acting Secretary General in the Department, who is a very fine person and whom I know, for much of the period since the Toland report. As the Minister knows, the person who took on the position on a full-time basis could, one could say, be described as being less than enthusiastic about applying for the job. In real terms, what can we do to bring about the fundamental structural changes set out by Toland? If we have any notion of complacency, we will fall back into our old practices.

As I said last week, I acknowledge criticisms of a specific nature which were the subject matter of controversy. I do not believe that should cast a shadow of a dark nature over the Department of Justice and Equality.

Does the Minister reject Toland?

I acknowledge that there are areas where progress has been limited. It is my job to ensure that these reforms are undertaken in a way which ensures the rate of change can be accelerated. While some aspects of the recommendations relating to the structure of the Department have been addressed, such as the establishment of a corporate secretariat office to support the management of the Department, there is not yet clear division between the justice and home affairs portfolios.

While a detailed analysis of how the Department should be restructured has been completed and agreement has been reached in principle to proceed with restructuring, the practical implementation of that recommendation now needs to be prioritised. Also requiring further attention is the recommendation relating to the need to increase focus on external communications which would improve transparency around key issues. This is an area where I acknowledge there has not been the type of programme I would have liked and where a renewed level of focus is required.

On the relationship between the Department and An Garda Síochána, the Department must be structured in an appropriate way so that it can operate in a way which ensures accountability. In that regard, let me readily admit that will involve better performance standards.

I welcome that the review is to be undertaken by a senior counsel, which was a welcome change on the part of the Minister and Government. It is still my view that it is difficult to credit that the emails could not have been found simply as a result of accident or error. That is why I was of the view that the tribunal should consider amending the terms of reference.

The short document released last week on the review of the Toland report dealt with some of the structural issues to which reference has been made. It moved quite quickly through some of the cultural issues, but the points in the Toland report relating to culture were quite specific. They included focusing on changing a closed and secretive cultural model to one which is as open and inclusive as possible and to define clear, specific behaviours and actions to be underpinned by a new model. A number of other similar points were made.

Does the Minister accept that as well as structural change there is a considerable need, as evidenced in recent weeks and months, for comprehensive cultural reform and change within the Department?

I acknowledge that. It is quite clear, given the references in the Toland report to the culture of the Department, that it is a key area requiring change and reform. I am anxious to follow through and ensure that the process is completed in a way which meets the concerns of the Toland report.

Following wide-ranging consultation with staff and external stakeholders a culture and values charter was published last year, with the objective of fostering a more outward-facing and listening organisational culture within the Department of Justice and Equality. These values form the core of all induction and leadership training, with a view to informing the way in which the Department engages with the public and all stakeholders.

I want to recognise that changing the organisational culture requires a sustained effort over time. A cross-grade team, led by a former Secretary General and deputy secretary, is working to ensure that this continues to be the case and that we embed that across the organisation, with a view to ensuring that change is real and lasting.

The Minister opened by saying he was informed that 80% of the Toland recommendations have been implemented. He concluded by saying that the Department is now outward-looking and there has been cultural change, as if the realities of the past two weeks have not happened. If that is the mindset, I despair. The Minister said all the work of reform is well under way and is, in fact, well accomplished.

I was one of the people who had the privilege of having an input to the Toland report. I was interviewed in that regard to give my analysis. Does the Minister accept the recommendation that the Department of Justice and Equality be divided into a Department of home affairs and a Department of justice? If he does, when does he envisage that happening?

I support it, but I am not in a position to put a clearly defined timeframe on it. The Deputy is aware, perhaps more than most, given his experience as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and specifically of the reform remit, that of all Departments, the Department of Justice and Equality deals with challenging matters to a degree and of size that may not be experienced by other Departments

Yes, that is correct. There are too many such matters.

The Department deals with matters of crime, security, policing, public safety, human rights, the reform of the criminal and civil law, asylum and refugee law and practice, the support and promotion of inclusion and equality-----

We know all of that. What is the Minister going to do about it?

There is also the regulation of land. I am engaging at this level to ensure the recommendations contained in the Toland report on the splitting of sections of the Department can be dealt with in a way that will ensure we will not add to the difficulties. The challenge is to manage the strategic objectives in a way that will be as effective as possible as work is ongoing. I invite Deputies to revert to this matter when there is any future opportunity to do so in the House, but it is my intention, duty and obligation as Minister to ensure every effort will be made to meet this big challenge.