Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality, has today announced that, in tandem with the wide ranging reforms of the justice system already in train, an Independent Review Group has been established to undertake a review of the Department itself.
The Minister stated: “The Department of Justice and Equality plays an essential role within Government and on behalf of the citizens of Ireland. It has many strengths across its wide range of functions but there are also areas of its work that require further evaluation and improvement. That is why, as part of our comprehensive response to the Guerin report, the Government decided to establish an independent expert review of the performance, management and administration of the Department.”
Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that she “today secured the Government’s agreement to the appointment of a very experienced and capable membership of the Independent Review Group.”
The membership of the Group will be as follows:
· Mr. Kevin Toland, CEO of the Dublin Airport Authority and former CEO of Glanbia, USA; (Chairman)
· Ms. Kathleen O’Toole, incoming Chief of Police, Seattle and former Chief Inspector, Garda Inspectorate;
· Mr. David Byrne, SC., former Attorney General and EU Commissioner;
· Ms. Geraldine Tallon, former Secretary General, Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government;
· Mr. Greg Sparks, Founding Partner, OSM Farrell Grant Sparks;
· Mr. Pat McLoughlin, CEO of the Irish Payment Services Organisation.
The Minister stated: “The members have a range of experience from the fields of change management, the law, policing, public administration and governance. They have all worked at the highest levels in their respective fields, both at home and abroad and I am very grateful to each of them for agreeing to undertake this important work.”
“Each of the Department’s difficult and complex areas of responsibility is directly relevant to the citizen – which is all the more reason to learn wider lessons and ensure the right structures are in place. These structures will then require sustained and consistent management and governance to ensure they work as they are intended to – for the benefit and protection of citizens.”
“I am confident that the Group will produce a thoughtful and rigorous report that will provide an important signpost on the path to reform and will enable the Department to build on its considerable strengths and to fully address areas that need improvement.”
The Minister concluded: “The measures already in train are designed to increase accountability and improve governance - from the key amendments in relation to whistleblowers now being fast tracked in the Protected Disclosures Bill, the holding of an open competition for the post of Garda Commissioner, the conducting of a follow up report to Guerin by the Garda Inspectorate to the strengthening of GSOC’s powers. The establishment by this Government of an Independent Garda Authority, which is intended to be in operation by the end of the year, will bring about the most fundamental change in governance arrangements for the Garda Síochána since its foundation. Two separate Commissions of Investigation are to report on a range of connected matters and all of this change is being overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform.”
Minister Fitzgerald said: 'It was good to have this early opportunity to discuss very serious matters of mutual concern. I want to congratulate An Garda Síochána and their counterparts on foiling a number of determined efforts to carry out terrorist offences. But these successes are a stark reminder of the threat posed by paramilitary groups whose aim is to drag the Irish people back into a very dark past. The Secretary of State and myself are determined, on behalf of our Governments, that there will be seamless cooperation at all levels in resolutely countering this threat.'