Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when his attention was first drawn to unauthorised surveillance of prisoners meetings with their solicitors and or surveillance of prison staff; the action he plans to take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20938/19]
20. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he plans to publish the Inspector of Prisons report into unauthorised surveillance of prison officers in view of recent comments in the media in which he stated that his attention was drawn to a person (details supplied); the rationale for the action he took; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20939/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 20 together.
I assume the Deputy is referring to allegations which were contained in an affidavit made in court proceedings by a prison officer of the Irish Prison Service. These allegations are the subject of an investigation carried out by the Inspector of Prisons on my behalf.
The affidavit, brought in connection with a proposed temporary transfer of the officer concerned, was brought to my officials' attention on 19 November 2018. The allegations were subsequently reported on in the media on 22 November 2018.
These allegations raised serious issues of public concern and I therefore asked the independent Inspector of Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney, to carry out an urgent investigation to determine as far as possible the facts of the matter.
The Inspector has furnished me with a copy of the report of her investigation, carried out under section 31 of the Prisons Act 2007, and I am considering the report in the light of advice from the Attorney General. When that consideration is completed, I will make a decision in relation to the publication of the report under section 31 of the 2007 Act.
The allegations which are the subject of the Inspector's investigation are not those raised by the person whose details are supplied by the Deputy. That person left the prison service in 1989 and subsequently raised a number of issues about activities in the prison service. In 2016 issues raised by him were the subject of an assessment in accordance with my Department’s Protected Disclosures Policy. This assessment concluded that there was insufficient detail to enable further investigation to take place. Concerns raised by the person were also considered by the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) established to review certain allegations of Garda misconduct and the outcome of that process was communicated to the person concerned. Questions Nos. 12 and 13 answered orally.