Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Ceisteanna (667)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

667. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the whereabouts of files (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22574/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy's Question is in respect of the operation of the Garda Síochána (Confidential Reporting of Corruption or Malpractice) Regulations 2007, which provide for the appointment of an independent Confidential Recipient to whom members of the Force, and civilian support staff, can report, in confidence, instances where they believe there may be corruption or malpractice within the Garda Síochána. Retired District Court Judge Mr Patrick McMahon was appointed on 12 March, 2014 to the position of Confidential Recipient to replace Mr Oliver Connolly who was relieved of his position on 19 February 2014, the circumstances of which the Deputy is aware.

The Confidential Recipient is required to transmit each confidential report to the Garda Commissioner (or to the Minister, if the report contains an allegation which relates to the Commissioner), who must investigate it and take any necessary action (unless it is believed that the allegations were not made in good faith or were false, frivolous or vexatious).

In transmitting a report the Confidential Recipient must protect the identity of the whistleblower, subject only to an exception, which is subject to stringent conditions, where knowledge of the whistleblower’s identity is essential for the proper investigation of the allegations. Any communication between the Confidential Recipient and the whistleblower is absolutely confidential.

In the circumstances I am not in a position to provide the Deputy with information on any cases that may have been ongoing at the time that Mr Connolly was relieved of his position. Any member of An Garda Síochána, or civilian support staff, is free to contact retired Judge McMahon in confidence to discuss any concerns they may have with regard to current confidential reports they may have made, or confidential reports they wish to make. The Garda Commissioner issued a Directive on 4 March 2014 giving the identity and contact details of the Confidential Recipient to all members of the Force. The details are also available to members of the Force on the Garda Portal.

Regulation 15(1) of the Confidential Reporting of Corruption or Malpractice Regulations 2007, requires the Garda Commissioner to report to me not later than four months after the end of each year in relation to any confidential reports made during that year. Based on the information provided by the Commissioner the number of confidential reports for each year since 2008 was as follows;

Year

No. of Reports

2008

2

2009

4

2010

2

2011

1

2012

3

2013

1

I am advised by the Garda Commissioner that all files notified to the Commissioner are filed at the Office of the Commissioner, that all investigations conducted through the mechanism of the Confidential Recipient have concluded and that there are no outstanding matters under investigation.

Finally, as the Deputy may be aware, due to concerns that the office of Confidential Recipient, and the legislation applicable, was not fulfilling the objective for which it was established, the Cabinet, at its meeting of 25 February 2014, agreed in principle that an appropriate amendment to the Protected Disclosures Bill 2013 should be prepared to enable the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to be prescribed as a body to which disclosures may be made by members of the Garda Síochána.