Minister for Injustice – Independent Review Mechanism

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Dáil Debates, Justice, Oral Questions

The Ministers’ response here does not tally with the experiences of the many families who have submitted their cases to the Internal Review Mechanism.  After a full year of the minister is saying that they are recommending to go back to the Guards and GSOC for more reports. These are the people who did not investigate the cases in the first place.  Its taken a full year to do nothing.

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 112 of 26 May 2015 the number of cases that were before the Internal Review Mechanism, where additional information was received or sought; her views in relation to the number of cases that have had their review concluded; and if she will make a statement on the matter.- Clare Daly

A total of 320 complaints were referred to the panel under the Internal Review Mechanism. The review of each complaint consists of an examination of the papers in the complaint by a counsel from the Panel and does not involve interviews or interaction with complainants or any other form of investigation, although counsel may recommend that I seek further information to assist in coming to an appropriate recommendation in any particular case. The process of the Independent Review is not a Commission of Investigation or an Inquiry designed to make findings. Its purpose is to triage these allegations to see if further investigations are needed.

Counsel are independent of my Department and they determine the steps necessary to review each case. They have the facility to request my Department to seek further information from the complainants or from other bodies which they believe may hold information which is relevant to their considerations. Further information was provided by complainants in over 200 cases. Information was requested through my Department at the request of the Panel from the Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in approximately 80 cases.

The recommendations of counsel contain in many cases comments relating to third parties, so clearly great care needs to be taken, when communicating outcomes to complainants, in setting out the main points made by counsel in a way which respects the rights of everyone concerned. As I have already announced, I appointed a retired judge, Mr Justice Roderick Murphy, to advise on the preparation of the letters and independently vouch for the fact that the summaries of conclusions and the reasoning behind them are a fair reflection of the advice which has been made available to the Department. I believe this will provide complete reassurance on the probity and independence of this entire process, from start to finish, and I am grateful to Mr Justice Murphy for taking on this task.

While the review of all the allegations is not yet completed, my Department has received the recommendations of counsel in over 90% of the cases. A number of notification letters have already issued to complainants and letters to the remaining complainants will issue over the coming weeks.

While, for the reasons stated above, it would not be appropriate to publish individual recommendations, I have considered how best information on the outcome of this process could be made public. In this regard, I have asked counsel, in addition to making recommendations in individual cases, to produce a general overview of the issues and trends which featured in this process. I believe that this may lead to the identification of issues and recommendation for change across a number of areas, which I hope will enable us to address some of the general and thematic concerns raised by those persons whose cases were examined by counsel. The report, when received, will be published by me.