· Over 100 participants discuss key questions relating to establishment of the new Independent Policing Authority
· Minister says “we are a quantum leap away from the Ireland within which An Garda Síochána was first set up” and all the changes since require new responses from the force
Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality has welcomed the feedback and outcomes from today’s Consultation Seminar on Justice Reform which the Minister hosted at Farmleigh.
The seminar was attended by over 100 participants including senior representatives of Gardaí, GSOC, the Garda Inspectorate as well as experts and representatives from across the academic, legal and NGO sectors.
The seminar was chaired by Mr. Tom Arnold and was addressed by Minister Fitzgerald, Acting Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, Dr. Vicky Conway and Baroness Nuala O’Loan.
Addressing the seminar Minister Fitzgerald stated: “As a nation, we are a quantum leap away from the Ireland within which An Garda Síochána was first set up. We are different in our attitudes and behaviours, our virtues and our vices, our demographics and our technologies. Each of those changes from the days when the force was first established requires new responses from that force.”
The seminar also provided an opportunity for significant group discussion involving participants.
Minister Fitzgerald thanked all participants for their active and constructive engagement.
The Minister stated: “The Government is implementing a comprehensive programme of reform with respect to the administration and oversight of policing and justice in Ireland. But this reform programme must not belong just to Government. The Gardaí serve us all. So this reform programme is for us all. Today’s seminar was about ensuring that we open up debate and deliberation on how to progress these reforms.”
“Today’s event identified and scoped out a large number of questions relating to the new Independent Policing Authority, which the Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform and I will have to consider in proceeding with our plans.”
“For example, we will need to consider the critical question of the Authority’s autonomy and remit which was raised by many participants.”
The Minister further noted that the need for absolute clarity regarding the functions of the Authority was a key point raised at the seminar.
The Minister stated: “I agree that the Authority’s functions should have a strong legislative grounding.”
The Minister added: “Questions over the new Authority’s role in budgetary planning and decision making must be considered; as will the question of the role of elected representatives and the relationships of the Authority with GSOC and the Garda Inspectorate. These were all matters identified by participants today.”