Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] The Government also believes that there must be an external investigation into these two specific matters, not one internally conducted by An Garda Síochána. The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality will revert on these matters later today during the Topical Issue debate she is dealing with.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach did not answer the questions I asked. Why did the Garda Commissioner not inform the Policing Authority? The Taoiseach spoke in his reply about the close oversight of the Policing Authority. It appears the authority was not informed. It is incredible. Under this radical new reform, the body that will take politics out of An Garda Síochána was not told.

Yesterday, we were told this was an administrative oversight. That is not credible. I asked the Taoiseach whether he could defend that. How does he explain it? Does the Taoiseach believe it is right that the Policing Authority was not informed?

I also asked the Taoiseach when the Minister for Justice and Equality was informed about all this. This has been going on since 2014. In 2015, Professor Cusack said that instead of 200,000 cases being recorded, the Garda had indicated that the figure was 400,000. It is clear to all and sundry that something is seriously wrong on a large scale with the data emanating from An Garda Síochána, but nothing has happened.

I am insisting that the Minister for Justice and Equality comes before the Dáil today to answer questions, not during the Topical Issue debate or anything like that. It should be done under private notice questions or some other context. The Minister should answer questions from the House in respect of this matter. It has been rather opaque so far in respect of the information leaking from An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice and Equality. We need far more transparency and serious accountability arising from these issues compared with what we have had up to now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Ceann Comhairle has made a decision in respect of the Minister answering questions in the House today. She will address the Topical Issue matter put forward by several Deputies.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I am asking the Taoiseach to volunteer the Minister and make her answer the questions directly.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Questions will apply under the Topical Issue debate.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister will not answer questions

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin does not attend for the Topical Issue debate. Questions are asked by Deputies at the end of their first contribution.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin They are not. There is no questions and answers format during the Topical Issue debate. The Taoiseach should stop misleading the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin raised the issue of why the Policing Authority was not informed. However, the Government was not informed either.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Government was informed.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald We should consider the scale of it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Minister for Justice and Equality received a letter in June 2016. The audit was ongoing. The Department was back to the Garda Síochána on several occasions. The deputy commissioner, Mr. Twomey, dealt with that at a press conference and apologised for it. However, it is not good enough, as Deputy Martin points out, that the Policing Authority, which has independent oversight of An Garda Síochána, was not told about this. An apology has been issued. That is the real culture issue that needs to be dealt with. The audit is under way as well.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary The Government has had six years to do it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I am very unhappy about this situation. We now know that systems are in place to deal with these kinds of circumstances from now on.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath It is not about systems; it is about people.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny How do we deal with a situation where we have 153% over-estimation in figures in terms of breathalysers and so on? That issue, no more than the issue of people not receiving a letter, should be the subject of an external examination. The Government made that decision this morning. The Government will meet again next week to look at the broader implications of where we are with An Garda Síochána so that the people can have trust and confidence in a fundamental institution of the State.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Over recent days we have heard of yet another controversy surrounding the management and operations of An Garda Síochána. We have heard of 14,700 unsafe convictions for motoring offences and almost 1 million breath tests recorded on the PULSE system that were never carried out. This is simply another episode of scandal surrounding An Garda Síochána. Perhaps we should not be surprised by the latest debacle. It seems clear from the scale of the current controversy that malpractice was endemic. It was happening day in and day out.

As the Taoiseach has fully acknowledged, public confidence in the management and leadership of An Garda Síochána is now on the floor.


Last Updated: 03/03/2020 15:22:45 First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page