Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Ceisteanna (653)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

653. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if further consideration will be given to the establishment of a historical investigations unit as discussed with a group (details supplied) at its meeting in February 2019. [31972/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) is to be established in Northern Ireland, as part of the framework of measures under the 2014 Stormont House Agreement that will address the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The HIU will specifically be tasked with conducting criminal investigations into unsolved troubles related killings in Northern Ireland.

Under the terms of the Stormont House Agreement, the HIU is not mandated to investigate troubles related killings in either this jurisdiction or in Great Britain. The HIU structure is dedicated to Northern Ireland because of the particular political situation there and the crucial need for the legacy process to have cross community acceptance and confidence.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the investigation of crime in Ireland is a matter for An Garda Síochána and the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the deployment of all Garda resources, including personnel. I have no role in such matters.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that, in general terms, responsibility for the investigation of criminal offences resides in the first instance with the Superintendent of the District where the offence was committed.

The Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, under the command of the Assistant Commissioner for Special Crime Operations, holds a national investigative remit and it is specialised in the area of major crime investigation. It undertakes and supports investigations on the direction of the Garda Commissioner.

The support provided includes using the expertise of the Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT), which was established in 2007 to provide independent review of historical investigations, including homicides. The purpose of a review conducted by the SCRT is to assist the Senior Investigating Officer with the criminal investigation. Such review is an independent examination of evidence and other material, gathered during investigation and to ensure that it conforms to approved standards; that the investigation has been thorough, conducted with integrity and objectivity; and to identify further investigative opportunities.

The range of other bureaux within Special Crime Operations support major investigations at a national level depending on the category of crime under investigation.

The investigation of terrorist-related offences falls under the remit of the Special Detective Unit under the command of Assistant Commissioner, Security and Intelligence. Other services within An Garda Síochána, such as the Analysis Service or the Technical Bureau, also provide support and assistance in the investigation and review of serious crimes.

The Deputy can be assured that in circumstances where historic, troubles-related offences have not been resolved, the investigations remain open and the Garda Authorities will and do follow up fully on any new evidence or information that becomes available to them, whether that comes from the public, from other police services or from their own investigations.