Oral Questions – Justice – Expulsion of Russian diplomat and Independent Review Mechanism

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Clare asked the Minister for Justice about the expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Ireland despite the lack of hard evidence connecting Russia to the Salisbury attack; she also asked him for an update on the progress of the statutory inquiries initiated as a result of the Independent Review Mechanism. Unfortunately neither question was selected from the lottery for debate on the floor of the House, but you can read the written responses below.

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For Oral Answer on : 17/04/2018
Question Number(s): 64 Question Reference(s): 16538/18
Department: Justice and Equality
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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has requested the Garda Commissioner to explain when and the way in which the information contained in the intelligence report that led to the expulsion of a Russian diplomat came to light regarding the activities of the person concerned; the number of meetings that took place between An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and other organisations in relation to completing the intelligence report; and if he is satisfied that An Garda Síochána has been appropriately monitoring this reported security threat.REPLY

I can assure the Deputy that the Government affords the highest priority to the State’s security.
An Garda Síochána carries out a range of functions in safeguarding our national security, including actions to counter terrorist threats, to support international security and to protect the State and its vital interests, where necessary, from espionage and unlawful acts of foreign interference.
In this regard, the Garda Authorities work very closely with their colleagues in the Defence Forces on an ongoing basis and they engage with all other relevant authorities as necessary. The Authorities here also co-operate on an ongoing basis with their counterparts in other states.

As the House will appreciate, it is the longstanding policy not to comment on the detail of specific security arrangements that may be put in place. To reveal the detail of such arrangements would be quite simply to undermine them and to hand advantage to those who my wish to do harm to people or to the State’s vital interests. I do not propose to depart from the longstanding practice of my predecessors in this regard.

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For Oral Answer on : 17/04/2018
Question Number(s): 77 Question Reference(s): 16539/18
Department: Justice and Equality
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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress of the statutory inquiries initiated as a result of the Independent Review Mechanism; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The Deputy is referring to five Statutory Inquiries which were established, under Section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, on 15 May 2017.  These inquiries, each of which is presided over by a retired judge, arose out of the recommendations of Counsel of the Independent Review Mechanism in respect of five complaints considered by it.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Orders establishing these Inquiries prescribe that a report will be made to me at the conclusion of each Inquiry.

As was outlined to the Deputy in response to Question 148 of 15 February 2018, at the time of establishment of these Inquiries, a timeframe of six months was set out for the submission of final reports.  In interim reports provided to me by the judges, it was made clear that completion within that six month timeframe has not been possible due to a number of factors.  I therefore granted extensions as appropriate for each Inquiry.

Upon receipt of each final report, I will review the contents and consider whether any further action is warranted or how I should proceed in relation to them.

At the present time, work is continuing on all five Inquiries. I expect to receive reports in respect of three of the inquiries by the end of April.  With regard to the remaining two inquiries, these have been given until the end of June to report.

As the Deputy will appreciate, certain aspects of these cases have proven very complex and I am anxious that the inquiries themselves are thorough and complete.