The role of a Commission of Investigation

A commission of investigation provides a less expensive and speedier method of investigating matters of urgent public concern than a tribunal.

The Government can set up a commission of investigation based on a proposal by a minister, with the approval of the Minister for Finance.  The Houses of the Oireachtas must approve a draft of the order establishing the commission, and a statement of the reasons for establishing the commission must be laid before each House.

 

Legislation

The Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 gives the commission the power to conduct its investigation in any manner it considers appropriate, as long as it adheres to the Act and the commission’s rules and procedures.  It must seek and facilitate the voluntary co-operation of people whose evidence it requires, and it must conduct its proceedings in private, except in exceptional circumstances.

A commission is entitled to compel witnesses to give evidence.  It can also direct a person to provide it with any documents in the person’s possession or power relating to the matter under investigation.  If the person fails to comply, the commission can apply to the court to compel compliance; or it may impose a costs order against the individual for the costs incurred by all other parties arising from the delay.

A commission of investigation reports to a specified minister.  The minister is obliged to publish the commission’s final report unless the minister considers that such publication might prejudice any criminal proceedings that are in progress.  In such a case, the minister may apply to the High Court for directions.

 

More information on Commissions of Investigations:

Commission of Investigation (Certain Matters relative to the Cavan / Monaghan Division of the Garda Síochána). Final Report.

Dean Lyons Commission of Investigation (PDF-3MB)

Report by Commission of Investigation into Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin

Report by Commission of Investigation into Catholic Diocese of Cloyne

 

Inquiries

Inquiry under the Dublin Police Acts

Under Section 12 of the Dublin Police Act 1924, the Minister for Justice and Equality can set up an inquiry into a charge or complaint of wrongdoing against a member of the Garda Síochána.  The inquiry can examine witnesses under oath.  The chairperson of the inquiry reports to the Minister with the inquiry’s findings and conclusions.

See also: Brian Rossiter Inquiry (PDF-359KB)

Inquiry under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended)

Following significant public concern relating to two incidents (in Tallaght and Athlone) which occurred in October 2013 where the children of two Roma Families were removed from their Families under section 12 of the Childcare Act 1991 (as amended), Ms Emily Logan was, in December 2013, appointed to carry out an Inquiry into these events.

This Inquiry was established in accordance with Section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended by section 42 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007).

The Report of the Inquiry was published by the Minister for Justice and Equality on 1 July 2014.