Justice committee to hold hearings on policing

The Oireachtas justice committee is to conduct special sessions on policing, starting in the next Dáil term.

TDs and senators agreed at a recent meeting that they would hold structured full-day hearings on policing on a regular basis from the autumn.

Chairman David Stanton said they hoped all the key players in the policing apparatus would participate as well as academics and experts.

“We made a decision as a committee to focus on policing from now on,” said the Fine Gael Cork East TD.

“This will be a periodic look at policing in Ireland on a quarterly basis or at least one each term. This would be a full-day special hearing open to the public at which we will talk about and examine policing issues, concerns, problems, and controversies.

“We will be inviting various people on policing, such as academics, the Garda commissioner, the Department of Justice, possibly the new Garda authority, the Garda inspectorate and so on.”

He said members of the committee had recently travelled to Scotland where they met with parliamentary colleagues.

“They have a sub-committee on policing and they have a police authority too, so we have taken some of what we learned from there.”

He said the Scottish Police Authority had started on a “shadow” basis when it was first established, before going operational.

“We hope to have the Garda authority set up by the end of the year. I think, like Scotland, it could set up on a shadow basis, but not operate for say four months while all the protocols and relationships and any confusion is ironed out.”

Mr Stanton said he also wanted to bring in the joint policing committees from around the country under the fold of the justice committee, either through appearances or regular reports.

“What all this is about, this overview of policing, is about democratic accountability and strengthening that,” he said.

He declined to comment on the sudden resignation of a senior investigator in GSOC. He said the justice committee had not discussed in detail whether or not to have any hearings in relation to the Cooke Report.

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