Mick Wallace Despite the usual 'nice' rhetoric from the #Democrats , the #US and #Saudi Coalition are continuing with their Coll… https://t.co/PDSQJJwylD
Mick Wallace Would be good if #mainstreammedia held #FiannaFail + #FineGael to account for voting for a terrible #CAP that aband… https://t.co/RFUXVmKnea
Mick Wallace The #EU needs to do more to stop the Collective Punishment of the people of #Tigray - This is a form of Genocide b… https://t.co/G5c6hiCa2q
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: The lack of concern shown by the #EU for the people of #Venezuela has been shocking and says much about their so called 'E…

PQ - Justice

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the action he will take to deal with the systemic leaking of information by An Garda Síochána to the mainstream media, which is a criminal offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

-Mick Wallace

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 5th November, 2013.

REPLY

I understand from the Garda Commissioner that it is the policy of An Garda Síochána that overall responsibility for releasing Garda information to the media rests with the Garda Press and Public Relations Office.  Members of An Garda Síochána are prohibited, except in specified circumstances, without the authority of the Commissioner from communicating either directly or indirectly with the media or furnishing to the media any information in connection with the investigation of crime or other official matters.

Any member of the Garda Síochána who leaks information to the media is not only contravening clear Garda policy, but is also, as the question notes, contravening the law.  It is an offence under the Official Secrets Act 1963 for a member of the Garda Síochána, as for any public official, to disclose official information without lawful authority.  It is also, quite separately, a distinct offence under section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 for a member of the Garda Síochána to make an unauthorised disclose to the media of information obtained in the course of duty if the member knows that such disclosure is likely to have a harmful effect.  The section  sets out a list of instances of harmful effect covered by this offence, which includes for example disclosures which result in the publication of personal information constituting an unwarranted and serious infringement of a person's right to privacy.

Any member of the public who believes that he or she has been the subject of unauthorised disclosure of information by a member of the Garda Síochána may make a complaint to the independent Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, which has extensive powers of investigation.

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To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality when he intends to complete the in-cell sanitation in Portlaoise Prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

 - Mick Wallace

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 25th September, 2013

REPLY

The Government is committed to the elimination of slopping out in all prisons and places of detention. This will be delivered through the Irish Prison Service 40 month Capital Plan, published in April 2012 as part of the Prison Service Three Year Strategic plan 2012 - 2015.

Consideration is currently being given by the Irish Prison Service to refurbishment works at  Portlaoise Prison including the installation of in cell sanitation. A final decision on these works has not yet  been taken.  Accordingly, it is not possible at this stage to provide an accurate completion date for the project.

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To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider strengthening the powers of GSOC in order to increase their capacity to hold An Garda Síochána to account.

 - Mick Wallace

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 25th September, 2013

REPLY

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission was established under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to provide independent oversight of complaints made against members of the Garda Síochána.  The Garda Ombudsman Commission has a hugely important role in ensuring that public confidence in the Garda Síochána is safeguarded, and has extensive powers under the 2005 Act to enable it to carry out its responsibilities.

The 2005 Act also provides for protocols on the sharing of information between the Garda Síochána and the Garda Ombudsman Commission. Protocols were agreed in 2007 and set down time limits for the provision of information by the Garda Síochána to the Garda Ombudsman Commission.

The Garda Ombudsman Commission, however, raised concerns in their 2012 Annual Report regarding delays in concluding their investigations, and in particular delays in receiving requested information from the Garda Síochána.  Concerns regarding Garda response times were also raised by the Garda Ombudsman Commission in the context of their later public interest report which dealt with the handling of covert human intelligence sources by the Garda Síochána.

In response to these concerns I convened a meeting  with the Garda Commissioner and the Chairperson of the Garda Ombudsman Commission on 23 July last to discuss the need for enhanced co-operation between the two bodies so as to ensure the effective and efficient investigation of allegations of Garda misconduct.

Both the Commissioner and the Chairperson agreed on the need for the highest possible level of co-operation between the two organisations, and emphasised that the protocols which deal with the sharing of information and time frames for responses were at that point under review.

I'm please to confirm that revised protocols have now been agreed and were signed by the Chairperson of the Garda Ombudsman Commission and the Garda Commissioner on the 23rd September 2013.  These revised protocols put in place clear procedures for the timely sharing of information and more generally for enhanced co-operation, and I look forward to their implementation. 

 

I should also say that, to facilitate early engagement in relation to any future emerging issues, I have established a committee chaired by a senior official in my Department, with senior representatives from the Ombudsman Commission and the Garda Síochána, to act as a forum where any such issues can be identified and appropriately addressed.

As regards the case for additional powers, the Ombudsman as I say already has extensive powers, including full police powers of investigation.  I am, however, currently examining suggestions by the Ombudsman Commission for changes to the 2005.

   

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To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the recent report by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice which recommends the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual service; if he plans to take any action in relation to the report's recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matte

 - Mick Wallace

 For written reply on Thursday 18th, July 2013

 REPLY

 The report referred to by the Deputies was published by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on 27 June and I have not yet had the opportunity to fully consider its contents.

 The report of the Joint Committee and the views expressed at a conference on prostitution hosted by my Department last October will be fully considered in the framing of any necessary legislative proposals to be submitted to Government in due course.

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