In November 2016 GSOC submitted a proposal to my Department for the creation of a designated unit to deal with protected disclosures. The proposal requested funding for a separate office within GSOC and for 12 new staff. At that time, GSOC had 10 protected disclosures on hand.
My Department liaised with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) in relation to the request. Staff from my Department met with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and provided them with a copy of the GSOC proposal. Subsequent to that meeting the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sought specific information in relation to existing arrangements/staffing ratios, etc., which my Department requested from GSOC.
While awaiting this information, my Department sought immediate sanction for 5 staff to get the new unit up and running. In May 2017, sanction was obtained from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the initial approval of 5 staff. It was clearly communicated to GSOC that the provision of further staff could be considered in the context of the 2018 Budget by which time the impact of the establishment of the unit and the adequacy of the 5 staff could be assessed. There was a clear commitment on the part of my Department at all times, that GSOC could re-engage on the issue as the situation developed and that the door was open to more resources being made available for the new unit based on further information being provided and experience of the operation of the new unit.
Unfortunately, it has taken far longer than my Department envisaged at the time, for the 5 staff to be recruited and as of now, GSOC has not yet succeeded in recruiting all the staff sanctioned in May 2017.
Finally, the Deputy may be interested to know that I met with the Chair of GSOC last September and discussed with her, among other things, the resourcing of GSOC. I invited her to set out for me her best assessment of the overall resource requirements to provide the level of service that complainants, and all those interested in the effective and efficient investigation of complaints against members of An Garda Síochána, expect and deserve. I am pleased to say that I have, this week, received a detailed business case for additional resources from GSOC and I will ensure that it is dealt with expeditiously. It is in no-one's interest that there is any perception that GSOC cannot fulfil its statutory mandate for want of resources and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that GSOC has the resources it requires.