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Witness Protection Programme

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 11 July 2018

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Ceisteanna (283)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

283. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the provisions that have been made for the protection of persons in the witness protection scheme in cases in which they are being placed in the public service identity system that requires them to subscribe to services that require a public services card in view of the fact that the public services card carries all previous names of the person on the card as part of its data set; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31606/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

An Garda Síochána has operated a Witness Security Programme since 1997 to respond to attempts by criminal and other groups to prevent the normal functioning of the criminal justice system, including through the threat and the use of violence and systematic intimidation of witnesses. 

As the Deputy will understand, by virtue of the necessarily highly confidential nature of the Witness Security Programme and the need to maintain the protection and safety of the persons who receive support from it, it is not the practice to detail the specifics of its operation.

However, I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána provides every appropriate protection for witnesses and their families who are receiving support from the programme. The Garda Authorities work closely as necessary with other bodies and service providers in this regard.

The Witness Security Programme is supported by provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 1999, as amended. Section 39 of the Act provides that a witness (other than an accused person) may give evidence by video-link where the court is satisfied that the person is likely to be in fear or subject to intimidation in giving evidence. Section 40 of the Act makes it an offence to seek to discover the location or other details of a relocated witness. The intimidation of a witness or juror is an offence under section 41 of the Act attracting a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment.

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