Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Ceisteanna (33)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

33. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he or his officials will meet with a State witness of a murder trial to discuss the person's concerns about the witness protection programme and the person's ongoing concerns for the person's safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4380/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware,  I recently responded to correspondence from her on this matter and I would like to thank her for raising this issue.

I wish to emphasise to the Deputy at the outset that the security of persons who may be or who may have been witnesses in the criminal process is a matter for An Garda Síochána. However, I can assure the Deputy that when An Garda Síochána becomes aware of a potential threat to life, immediate steps are taken by Gardaí to mitigate against this danger and they will be best placed to advise the individual in question how best to proceed in this specific case.

The Deputy will appreciate that the manner in which An Garda Síochána address potential safety threats to individuals is an operational matter for the Commissioner and his management team and I, as Minister, have no role in this regard. While I cannot comment on specific cases, I am willing to send details in relation to this case directly to An Garda Síochána and request a report on the matter.

If the Deputy is in a position to provide these details to me confidentially, I will instruct my officials to make contact with the Garda authorities and I will revert to you again once a full report has been received.

An Garda Síochána operates a Witness Security Programme to counter attempts by criminal gangs and other groups to prevent the normal functioning of the criminal justice system, including through the threat and the use of violence and the systematic intimidation of witnesses.

The Deputy will understand that by virtue of the highly confidential nature of the Witness Security Programme, and the absolute need to maintain the protection and safety of persons who receive support from it, that it is not the practice to detail the specifics of its operation. However, I am advised that the Witness Security Programme is supported by provisions in the Criminal Justice Acts which deal with the intimidation of a witness or jurors, the trial of offences and the provision of evidence by video-link and that the operation of the Witness Security Programme and the resources required for it are kept under continuous review by An Garda Síochána.

Questions Nos. 34 to 42, inclusive, answered orally.