Garda review will not be ready before Easter

The Government’s 12-18-month root and branch review of the gardaí will not be finalised until after Easter because further consultation with opposition parties is still needed.

Photo credit: Donal Smyth, Paul Wallace, President Antoinette Cunningham, Rory Brennan, and John Jacob, all executive members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, at its conference in Killarney yesterday. Picture: Don MacMonagle

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will confirm the situation at the Cabinet’s weekly meeting today, during which ministers will be asked to sign off on the interim report into the mother and baby homes scandal before it is published this afternoon and separate plans for a new flood relocation programme.

In relation to the review of the force, Ms Fitzgerald will tell ministers that significant progress has been made in drawing up the investigation’s terms in response to a series of meetings with opposition parties last week.

However, she will say that other than a 12-18-month timeframe, no finalised scope of the investigation will be ready until after Easter as further discussions are needed with opposition parties.

The Cabinet meeting is expected to see Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone seek permission for the publication of the long-awaited interim report of the mother and baby homes commission.

While it has been available since September, the Government will only publish the report today amid questions on whether it will lead to further exhumations of mother and baby home sites and increase potential compensation costs.

Last month, Ms Zappone confirmed the discovery of the remains of hundreds of dead children in a septic tank in Tuam.

While the report is not specifically addressing this scandal, it is examining linked issues including forced adoptions, wide-scale mistreatment of single mothers and children, and other issues for most of the 20th century in Ireland.

The Cabinet will also see Sean Canney, the junior minister with responsibility for floods, put forward fresh plans to ensure people in Clare, Limerick, and Cork at risk of flooding can be relocated as part of a multimillion-euro Government fund.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is also due to say that, despite Brexit, Ireland’s economy is forecast to grow by 4.3% this year.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney will seek Cabinet approval for a new rates bill to allow people to repay local authorities in more reasonable instalments.

The Cabinet meeting will also discuss the Government’s response to last week’s Fennelly report and opposition parties’ Dáil motions of no confidence relating to the gardaí, amid ongoing criticism of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s approach to both matters.

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