The Independent Review Mechanism
On 13 May, 2014 the Government decided that the Minister for Justice and Equality, in consultation with the Attorney General, should establish an Independent Review Mechanism to consider allegations of Garda misconduct or inadequacies in the investigation of such allegations, with a view to determining to what extent and in what manner further action may be required in each case. This was one of the actions agreed by Government as a response to the Guerin report.
A panel consisting of two Senior and five Junior Counsel, all selected on the basis of their experience of the criminal justice system, was established for the purpose. The complaints were in the form of letters, some of which have been sent by the individuals direct, while others had been submitted through intermediaries, such as TDs or representative organisations. They arose from a wide variety of situations.
The review of each allegation consisted of an examination of the papers by a counsel from the Panel, and did not involve interviews or interaction with complainants or any other form of investigation, although counsel could recommend that the Minister seek further information to assist in coming to an appropriate recommendation in any particular case. The purpose of the review was to triage the allegations to see if further investigations are needed.
While the volume and complexity of cases led to the review taking longer than originally anticipated, the Panel provided recommendations to the Minister in all 320 cases submitted to them. In one case the recommendation was of an interim nature. The issuing of notification letters to complainants commenced on 29 June 2015 and concluded on 8 February 2016. In each case a submission was prepared for the Minister. Mr Justice Roderick Murphy reviewed the summary of the conclusion and the letter of notification drafted to ensure they accurately reflected counsels’ recommendations.
The second stage of the process, which is to undertake the actions to which the Minister has agreed following recommendations from counsel, is underway.
It is the Minister’s intention, on the completion of the process, to make a comprehensive statement on all the actions she has decided to take in line with the recommendations of counsel.
While it would not be appropriate to publish individual recommendations, the Minister has considered how best information on the outcome of this process could be made public. In this regard, the Minister has asked counsel, in addition to making recommendations in individual cases, to produce a general overview Report of the issues and trends identified through this process. This Report will inform consideration of any changes which may be necessary to ensure that similar issues do not arise in future. The Minister has indicated that she will publish this Report.