14. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied that GSOC is receiving all available support in terms of funding and support from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21107/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Let me say at the outset that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has a hugely important role to play in ensuring that public confidence in the Garda Síochána is safeguarded and as such, it has extensive powers under the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
This Government has always been committed to ensuring that GSOC has the necessary supports and resources in order to fulfil its statutory functions and mandate. As the Deputy will be aware, last year sanction was secured from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for an additional 42 staff members for GSOC. This included 5 additional staff for the protected disclosures unit within GSOC.
In her response to the sanctioning of these additional posts, the Chair of GSOC said that this demonstrated real political support for Garda oversight and the additional staff would allow GSOC the ability to fulfil and expand its statutory remit and meet the needs of the community.
In addition to the sanction of new staff, GSOC's budget for 2019 has been increased to €10.7 million which is an increase in core funding of €1.6 million (15%). This increase has enabled GSOC to meet the costs associated with the recruitment of the additional staff that have been sanctioned and I am assured that the overall budget allocation to GSOC for 2019 will ensure that it has the necessary resources to fulfil its mandate.
As well as providing the resources required, last December, the Government endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing including its proposals for a new, coherent governance and oversight framework for policing in the State. My Department is working as a matter of priority on a Policing and Community Safety Bill which will provide for this new framework including very substantial reform of GSOC and an expansion of their remit.
These reforms, developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders including the oversight bodies, will no doubt require a further strengthening of the resources required to carry out this essential work. Both my Department and this Government are entirely committed to ensuring that the resourcing and governance needs of the new complaints body are met fully.
I believe that these measures demonstrate my commitment to ensuring that GSOC has the necessary resources to effectively fulfil its remit.