Sunday 4 December 2016

17 months after damning report, department still awaits reform

Published 23/01/2016 | 02:30

The slow progress of change is just the latest issue to beset embattled Justice Minister France Fitzgerald (p) Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
The slow progress of change is just the latest issue to beset embattled Justice Minister France Fitzgerald (p) Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Seventeen months on from a damning report criticising it as "closed, secretive and silo driven", the Department of Justice admits it has yet to transform the organisation's culture.

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One of the main recommendations of the Toland Review was that there be "a programme of fundamental and sustained organisational and cultural change and renewal".

In July 2014, it recommended action be taken to introduce an "open and inclusive model" and that measures be implemented within three months.

The scandal-hit department has admitted an action plan and a new values charter to "embed" a more open culture is only now being developed.

It said changing organisational culture was "widely recognised as a deeper, long term goal and so takes considerable time". It also said extensive engagement with staff had been necessary and this had "just been completed".

The slow progress of change is just the latest issue to beset embattled Justice Minister France Fitzgerald, who is already facing criticism over her response to the controversy over the Garda Ombudsman's snooping on the phone records of journalists and the ongoing burglary epidemic.

It is also unlikely to improve the department's chances of attracting a new secretary general, a crucial post that has not been filled on a permanent basis since the departure of Brian Purcell in October 2014.

Noel Waters, former director general of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, was appointed acting secretary general on a caretaker basis but has had to remain in place after the Government was unable to attract a suitable candidate.

Irish Independent

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