I thank the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, for coming to the House to address this issue. In January 2018, I asked the Minister to investigate the situation relating to homicide figures. The Minister is aware that at the time the Policing Authority had serious issues with the statistics that had been provided to it. There were internal tensions between the deputy head of An Garda Síochána analysis service and senior members of An Garda Síochána management regarding the categorisation of these crimes. In March, two very brave women, Ms Lois West and Ms Laura Galligan, came before the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality, where they outlined their issues. Their testimony was the best I have ever heard in these Houses. They knew their information, their data, their work and the professional standards that are required better than anyone I have ever seen. Ms West and Ms Galligan conducted an investigation into statistics from 2013 to 2017, and they also went back to 2003 as a result of that investigation. Under considerable pressure, they refused to sign off on statistical reports they could not stand over. They also told the justice committee that they felt belittled and undermined and that their professional standards had been ignored. As a result, a review has been conducted in respect of homicide figures and other statistics that had been provided to the Central Statistics Office, the CSO. I am of the view that, at the time, Garda management did not want this information coming out because it was damaging to the force's reputation.
On foot of the work of the two Garda crime analysts, has an analysis of PULSE been carried out? Is the system fit for purpose and capable of maintaining statistics? Have gardaí being trained as a result of the revelations made by those two brave women? Were investigative procedures put in place to ensure that statistics are being correctly brought together? Has the administration of PULSE to provide the statistics and other systems in the background changed since January of last year?
Last week, there was a further report from the CSO which contained crime statistics that are very worrying in the context of the increase in serious crime. The CSO has said that these statistics were provided in a new category termed "under reservation". Is this going to change, and when will it change? Will the Minister indicate if there has been any investigation into the treatment of the two women to whom I refer?
I want to know specifically if gardaí handle personal crime data on citizens of the State in the correct manner. Have gardaí ever passed on to the CSO not just crime statistics but also the names and details of the perpetrators of serious crime? Have gardaí ever passed on names or details of those who are suspected of committing serious crimes? Have they passed on the names or details of the victims of such serious crimes? Has this ever happened or is it happening currently? Has the position in this regard changed in the recent past? Have gardaí been giving personal information on victims, perpetrators or suspects to the CSO as part of the transfer of data? If that is the case, is the Minister absolutely confident to confirm that neither the Statistics Act 1993 nor the Data Protection Act 2018 has in any way been breached?
Will the Minister indicate if the acting Garda Commissioner has invoked section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act to inform the Minister of anything relating to the matter to which I refer? Has the Policing Authority been informed of any concerns in this regard? Will the Minister admit that if there were any breaches of this nature, it would be a very serious matter?