Saturday 14 December 2019

Fitzgerald: allegations against gardai may need new inquiry

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald

Niall O'Connor

JUSTICE Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said there may be a new statutory inquiry into almost 300 allegations of garda misconduct.

Ms Fitzgerald yesterday said complaints lodged through members of the Oireachtas against gardai are currently being examined by a group of barristers.

The Dublin Mid-West TD told the Dail that the number of complaints has risen in recent weeks and that some 282 allegations are currently being scrutinised.

"The review is under way and is examining 282 cases that have been referred," the minister said. "This is a significant number of cases and somewhat higher than originally estimated but it was important to refer to the panel all of the allegations on hand, with minimal filtering, to ensure every appropriate case got the benefit of an independent review," she added.

Ms Fitzgerald said all of the allegations will be examined by an independent review mechanism and that different courses of action are available, depending on the seriousness of the allegation.

She said that the Senior Counsel may refer complaints back to the Garda Commissioner for disciplinary action.

But she admitted for the first time that the complaints may lead to a new statutory inquiry.

The Fennelly Commission is currently examining a range of different garda and justice matters, including the taping of phone conversations in and out of garda stations. But Ms Fitzgerald said she does not want to continually extend the remit of the Fennelly Commission as new complaints are made.

Ms Fitzgerald said individuals who made the initial complaints will not be called for interview but further information may be sought.

She added that while the number of complaints has risen in recent months, she believes no further action will be taken in the majority of cases.

Irish Independent

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