Monday 23 October 2017

Justice department may be broken up in reshuffle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking with Alan Shatter
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking with Alan Shatter

Fionnan Sheahan and Niall O'Connor

THE break-up of the Department of Justice is an option on the table in the cabinet reshuffle next week, the Irish Independent has learned.

The move would put the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in danger of being abolished.

In the wake of the garda scandals, government sources say the reshuffle presents an opportunity to bring about changes in its operation.

An independent review of the Department of Justice is due to be finished next week, but there is a possibility of an early draft being provided.

A key part of the review, which came in the wake of the resignation of former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, is the effectiveness of the department's current structure, systems, management and capabilities.

"There is a consciousness in the Government that the Department of Justice is too big, which has contributed to the problems there," a senior government source said.


Following Mr Shatter's departure, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and government chief whip Paul Kehoe took control of the Department of Defence on a temporary basis.

The scenario being floated in government circles would see the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht areas being distributed across other departments.

The scrapping of that department would allow a new portfolio to be created.

"Then the Department of Justice could be broken up. You'd have the Department of Justice Law Reform and perhaps the Department of Equality and Defence. Something like that. But Justice would change," a senior government source said.

Dublin Airport Authority chief executive Kevin Toland is chairing the group set up to undertake an independent review. A deadline of July 11 was set for the group to file its report to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The decision to carry out the review was taken by the Government as part of a series of measures following criticism of the department and the gardai in the Guerin Report, which examined the handling of complaints made by Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Meanwhile, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton continues to be linked with the anticipated vacancy in the Health Minister's role, when Dr James Reilly is moved.

Irish Independent

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