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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald] Very clearly, what is at issue here is the management and leadership within An Garda Síochána. We have heard many times the story about reform that the Taoiseach told again today. At this stage, with yet another scandal breaking, when senior management are revealed again to be incompetent and indifferent - certainly indifferent to the view of the Government or public - and when public confidence is on the floor, people expect the Government, including the Taoiseach, to act. This is not about an individual personality. It is not about Nóirín O'Sullivan as a woman; this is about Nóirín O'Sullivan as the Commissioner, the woman who is in charge. This is about the Commissioner failing to deliver on the reform agenda and, sadly, it is about An Garda Síochána being at such a low ebb and enjoying such low public confidence that the people to whom we speak will have no expectation or real enthusiasm for full reform.

The Taoiseach knows that the Commissioner has to go. Why is he delaying? Why does he refuse to do that which is his job? Is it because Brian Purcell is no longer available to him? Perhaps he does not have the bottle to do what he needs to do. Is it that he does not now have a senior civil servant to run and have a word in the Commissioner's ear? We have tabled a motion but the Taoiseach should not have to wait for that. The Taoiseach should do his job and relieve Nóirín O'Sullivan of her duties.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy's last comment was the subject of a sworn inquiry, which determined the outcome there. In respect of these issues here, it was pointed out at the press conference held by the senior members of An Garda Síochána that the solutions to the problems that were identified here, whereby figures are clearly not accurate or true, are now in place for 2017-18. We will find out the truth about the discrepancies here. We will find out what happened within the Garda traffic management system such that people did not receive letters giving them the option to accept their penalty points and pay their charge before they went to court. We will find out all that. It is also true to say that the Garda Commissioner herself pointed out that other issues may well arise in the future when a radical and surgical-----

Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace The Taoiseach is not wrong there.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----reformation of ongoing issues is undertaken. That is why the Government today reflected very seriously, despite Deputy McDonald's shaking of her head, on the structure and nature of the Garda force for years to come.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Absolute rubbish. Do your job.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We need to get this right and the Deputy and her party will have a part to play in this. The authorities will talk to the Deputy about it and to her leader, as with the leaders on this side. I hope we can have agreement from the Oireachtas about the nature of how we should have that process put in place to bring about a sense of confidence and trust among the ordinary people of the country in what is a fundamentally important institution of the State. Deputy McDonald might want to become narrowly political about this but I am much more interested in finding out the truth of these matters, which will be found by an external, independent analysis and examination, in a much broader sense, of where we want to be with An Garda Síochána to build that integrity and trust in order that those people who do their work to the highest standards-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Nobody believes that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----will have pride in the uniform.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin As somebody who worked very closely with the Taoiseach over five years, I can truly say that his responses to date on this matter are entirely inadequate. The facts need repeating, although they have been mentioned time and again. From 2006 to 2016, a total of 146,865 District Court summonses were issued in error and 14,700 of our citizens were brought before the courts and wrongly convicted. Some of them were told they were telling lies when they said they did not actually receive a summons. One should think of the impact that would have on their livelihood and families. All of this now has to be undone.

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