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To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has implemented in full, in the identified timeframe of three months, the recommendations of the Garda Professional Standards Unit into the cancellation of penalty points; if not, the reason for same; when he will publish the review he asked the Garda Inspectorate to carry out on the GPSU report; and if he will publish the response he has received from the Garda Ombudsman to whom he forwarded both reports into the penalty points controversy for review..

- Mick Wallace

For PRIORITY answer on Wednesday, 25th September, 2013

REPLY

The report of April 2013 from the Professional Standards Unit in the Garda Síochána looked at the processes and systems which are in place concerning the cancellation of fixed charge processing notices.  The report complements the report prepared by Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahoney of his examination into the allegations of irregularities in the operation of the Fixed Charge Processing System.  These two reports recommended a number of changes aimed at ensuring that administrative procedures are correctly followed throughout the Force in relation to the cancellation of fixed charge notices.

The two reports were published on my Department's website on 15 May 2013.  In publishing the reports, I welcomed their  recommendations for enhanced safeguards to ensure integrity in the Fixed Charge Processing System.  In addition, in order to provide even further public reassurance as to the effectiveness of these changes, and with the agreement of the Garda Commissioner, I asked the independent Garda Síochána Inspectorate to validate the proposed changes prior to implementation, including making any necessary supplementary recommendations, and to review their implementation after 18 months.  The Inspectorate is making progress in its work in this regard and I await their report in the matter.

The Inspectorate's assessment of the recommendations made in the two Garda reports, and any further recommendations in this area which the Inspectorate feel are warranted, will be put in the public domain via the Inspectorate's website.

I also provided the two reports to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality for their consideration and advice on any further recommendations or procedural or legislative changes which are desirable in this area.  I understand that the Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions in turn forwarded the reports to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and that the Ombudsman Commission subsequently appeared before that Committee  on 3 July.  GSOC informed the Committee that they had previously decided against opening an investigation.  They were conscious that the whistleblower was a serving Garda and, therefore, they could not under the Garda Act deem a complaint from him admissible.  GSOC indicated to the Committee that the decision was open ended and they were reserving their position.  I am somewhat surprised that Deputy Wallace does not seem to be aware of this position as he was present at that meeting and, indeed, chaired part of the meeting himself.

Neither of the reports were forwarded to the Ombudsman Commission by me or my Department.

In addition to the action I have taken above, the Garda Commissioner as a result of both reports established an implementation group to revise the Garda Policy document on the Fixed Charge Processing System and to incorporate the recommendations of both the examination and the reports in consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.  I am advised by the Garda Commissioner that a circular with revised cancellation procedures in relation to Fixed Charge Notices issued to all members of the Garda Siochana on 30 August.  This Directive may be further revised on foot of any recommendations by the Garda Inspectorate in their expected report referred to above.

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To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the facilities available to ensure the safety of children fleeing domestic violence; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace

&

To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will provide details of the Government's strategy for protecting children subject to domestic violence in view of recent calls by the European Committee of Social Rights and the Children's Alliance to ban corporal punishment and violence in the home; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 19th September, 2013

REPLY

At the outset, I would emphasise that the two matters raised by the Deputy, domestic violence and corporal punishment, are discrete issues.

Responsibility for the prevention of domestic violence rests with the Department of Justice and Equality.  In so far as the HSE provides domestic violence services to victims, responsibility currently falls within the remit of the Department of Health and the HSE.  Children, as individuals, do not require the services of domestic violence shelters; they accompany the parent who requires these on occasion. Unaccompanied children make use of alternative services, under the Child Care Act 1991, and would not be placed in a domestic violence shelter.  The issue of domestic violence and associated services are included in the Bill providing for the establishment of the new Child and Family Agency (CFA) given the close relationship between domestic violence and child protection issues. In this regard, the task force report on the establishment of the CFA noted the need for a robust co-ordinating mechanism to continue the appropriate multi-organisational approach.

Ireland has no law or statute at present which specifically permits corporal punishment in the home setting.  However, Section 246 of the Children Act 2001 provides very clear legal deterrents to the use of excessive physical discipline within the home setting or otherwise, as follows:

Section 246.—(1) ‘It shall be an offence for any person who has the custody, charge or care of a child wilfully to assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose the child, or cause or procure or allow the child to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed, in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child's health or seriously to affect his or her well-being.’ 

In relation to corporal punishment within the home, a limited defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ exists in common law, but successful high profile prosecutions have been taken by the State under section 246 where parents are deemed to have used excessive or unreasonable force in disciplining children.

My Department is currently engaged with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General's Office to respond formally to the European Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe (CoE) in respect of matters raised through the committee around the banning of corporal punishment in all settings.

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IRISH MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT VISIT ASSANGE IN ECUADOR EMBASSY – AND ISSUE CALL TO ALL IRISH AUSTRALIANS TO RALLY AROUND ASSANGE AND VOTE FOR WIKILEAKS IN UPCOMING SENATE ELECTIONS

Following a visit with Julian Assange in the Ecuador Embassy yesterday, two members of the Irish Parliament have issued a public call to all Irish Australians to come out and support the election campaign of Wikileaks.

Speaking after the visit, Independent TD for Wexford, Mick Wallace said, “Australian citizens have a unique opportunity to play an important part in shaping world history in the upcoming Senate elections by supporting the candidacy of Julian Assange & Wikileaks. Understandably people often believe that their vote will not make a difference, with so many of the political parties representing the same polices and carrying out the same neo-liberal agenda, and one could forgive people for thinking that all politics is a sham, and the sole motivation for most elected representatives is to be re-elected and people see their energies apportioned accordingly.”

In this election, Australian citizens have a chance to really shake things up, not just at home, but globally. Every vote for Assange & Wikileaks is a vote for Transparency, Justice, and a new way of doing politics. It will send a message to the global elite that ordinary citizens are not prepared to sit back and accept their lies.

Wallace encouraged all Australians to demand for the global elite to be called to account saying “it is an opportunity to vote to support the courage of whistleblowers everywhere. Irish people have a long history of fighting repression and striving for independence and freedom. I believe that every  Australian, especially those with Irish connections should come out and vote for Assange and Wikileaks.”

North Dublin United Left TD Clare Daly said, “Julian Assange and Wikileaks have played a pivotal role in exposing the slaughter of innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have shone a light on the practises of undemocratic and unaccountable politicians, exposed corrupt bankers and been instrumental in empowering ordinary people to make a stand and demand that society should be run in the interests of ordinary people in many different countries around the world.”

The information Assange and Wikileaks have revealed about mass surveillance has sparked demands for change globally. These people are seeking to change things for the better and for their “crimes” they are being ruthlessly repressed and pursued by those who want to protect their power and corrupt practises.

Daly called on all Irish Australians to take this historic chance to make a change by voting, saying that “Irish Australians have always played an important role in shaping Australian society. If Julian Assange is elected it will be a massive step forward for real democracy and accountability. Elections have not always made a difference but this is certainly an occasion where they can.”

ENDS

MORE INFO :

MICK WALLACE TD – 00353872454510 or mick.wallace@oir.ie

CLARE DALY TD – 00353872415576 or clare.daly@oir.ie

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namaleaks

THE TRUTH IS COMING....

Namaleaks is a project that seeks to uncover possible injustice and poor practice related to NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) and financial institutions in Ireland.

VISIT THE WEBSITE

Mick Wallace Budget 2016 Speech.

Mick Wallace discussing Ireland's response to the current Refugee crisis.

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