22. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if, in the event of an investigation that may be initiated following the report and review relating to two protected disclosures (details supplied), she will consider suspending the Garda Commissioner, in view of the fact that she might have control of much of the information required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40426/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy is aware, following advice received from the Attorney General, I appointed Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill to undertake a review of certain protected disclosures which were made to me. In essence, Judge O’Neill was asked to review allegations of wrongdoing contained in the disclosures; to make whatever inquiries he considered appropriate in relation to the review and to report on the conclusion of his review, including any recommendations which he considered necessary in relation to any further action which may be appropriate and warranted to address the allegations.
Judge O'Neill was initially due to report by 23 November. However, he subsequently sought two short extensions, which I granted. He delivered his report on 7 December 2016.
The report sets out in detail the allegations contained in the protected disclosures and his recommendations. The House will appreciate, notwithstanding receipt of the Report of Mr Justice O'Neill, that we are still dealing with protected disclosures and as such I must be very careful to protect the identity of the persons who made those disclosures. This fact, and the fact that the report specifies the nature of the allegations and refers to third parties, means that I must be very careful to respect the rights of those who made the disclosures and of those third parties. Having read the Report, I have sought the advice of the Attorney General on how to proceed in relation to it. When that advice is received, I will bring forward proposals to Government on the next steps.
I know that Deputies want to know immediately what the Report contains and I am most anxious to facilitate informed comment on it. But I cannot ignore the rights of those whose good name may be affected by the contents of the report and I urge the House to recognise that fact.
I have a responsibility to ensure that the protected disclosures are properly addressed and have every intention to discharge this responsibility. I have no doubt that should any further inquiry be established that all parties will cooperate fully with it.
No question of suspension of the kind suggested by the Deputy arises.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Justice O'Neill for carrying out this work and presenting his Report so promptly to me.