Criticism over lack of update on Department of Justice review

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan

The Government has been accused of going silent on the promised reforms and independent review of the “dysfunctional” Department of Justice.

Despite Taoiseach Leo Varadkar committing to a review of justice last year after the email controversy which forced the resignation of tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, little has been done.

Ms Fitzgerald is scheduled to give evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal over accusations she was aware, as justice minister, of a Garda strategy to discredit whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan wants to know why there has been slow progress in overhauling the department.

“Despite committing to an external inquiry into the email controversy which led to the resignation of the former justice minister, and to the establishment of an independent and change implementation group to assess the progress of reform in department of justice, review its culture, and examine its relationship with the gardaí, there has been no update from the Taoiseach on the progress of either of these issues,” he said.

The resignation of Ms Fitzgerald ended a crisis for the Government that had threatened to collapse its support and trigger a snap general election.

Instead, she resigned and Mr Varadkar promised a probe into the department.

Mr Varadkar called the department “dysfunctional” and announced radical action to “restore public confidence”.

Barrister Michael Collins was appointed in December to head the review, with an agreement that a report would go to Mr Varadkar before January 19.

Mr Varadkar also announced the justice department would be split in two — justice and home affairs — but remain under the control of one minister.

The Toland report previously recommended a range of reforms for the department but many of these were never implemented.

Fianna Fáil said there was “radio silence” from the Government more than a month after the promised reforms.

Mr O’Callaghan said he wants Mr Varadkar to answer for the delay in the promised changes.

“I am deeply concerned that these commitments will be allowed to fall by the wayside, in much the same way that the Toland report was allowed to gather dust on a shelf for three years,” said Mr O’Callaghan. “Fine Gael in Government has made a habit out of commissioning reviews and reports without actually implementing the recommendations.

“Fianna Fáil is not willing to let this pattern continue. I am calling on the Taoiseach to outline in full what progress has been made both in relation to the external review of emails and the establishment of the ‘independent and change implementation group’ that were promised in November 2017. Further delays are simply not acceptable.”

A Government spokesman last night said the Justice review was still pending.


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