Minister reviews garda complaints findings

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has started reviewing the recommendations of a major independent review of garda misconduct complaints and will soon begin writing to the people involved.

Minister reviews garda complaints findings

Complainants have been warned to brace themselves for bad news, with strong indications that many cases will not receive further investigation.

The work of the independent review panel — consisting of senior and junior counsel — was supposed to have finished last November. However, due to a late surge in complaints and a reported complexity of some cases, the review has outstanding files to complete.

In August, the panel had received around 200 complaints, but a further flurry of complaints landed in the following months, bringing the total to 318 cases.

Ms Fitzgerald announced the creation of the panel last July, on the back of the Guerin report into allegations of garda misconduct in the Cavan/Monaghan division.

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It is up to the panel to decide what, if any, further investigation is required. The latter could range from recommended disciplinary action by the Garda Commissioner; referral to the Garda Ombudsman for investigation; to a full commission of inquiry.

Of the 318 cases, the majority relate to misconduct allegations involving gardaí, but 99 concern responses by the Garda Ombudsman. In addition, 128 cases involve other organisations. Some 65 of the complaints originated before 2000.

Ms Fitzgerald has told the Dáil she will publish a “comprehensive report” on the review, although it’s not clear if that will include the review itself. She told the Dáil: “After Easter, I will start to examine the recommendations that have come to the department, and I will write to the people involved in each of the cases. I note it will be quite a job even to craft a response.”

She said the work of the review panel was not complete — and cases remain outstanding.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig MacLochlainn said the review was supposed to take a few months, but had now taken “eight months”.

“The delay has caused a great deal of distress to families, who have not been receiving any feedback.”

He said he accepted “a significant amount of cases are probably without merit and are not valid allegations or accusations”.

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