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Question

6. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will meet the two serving Garda whistleblowers whose legal teams have been in contact with her requesting a meeting and access to reports commissioned in relation to their cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40318/16]

Answer

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Recent years have seen very substantial changes in the way whistleblowers and protected disclosures can be addressed. There is the Protected Disclosures Act of 2014. Members of An Garda Síochána can now make disclosures to GSOC which has full statutory powers to examine them. There is also a new protected disclosure policy in An Garda Síochána. Recently, I referred the Garda policy on whistleblowing to the Policing Authority and asked it to examine the policy and whether it would recommend any changes. The Policing Authority told me that it would recommend changes. We will ensure that these are implemented. The Garda Commissioner has committed to implementing them.
I am aware of the cases to which the Deputy referred. All of us in the House must be very careful in discussing individual whistleblowing cases. Protection for whistleblowers rightly prioritises the confidentiality of the process, which is central to its efficiency. While the Deputy is free to make whatever comments she wishes regarding particular cases, if I started commenting on individual cases of whistleblowers or if I gave the details of particular cases, I would be open to criticism. This is all the more so when cases have been the subject of extensive legal correspondence. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on them publicly. I cannot respond to legal correspondence by way of parliamentary questions.
In an effort to be helpful to the Deputy, I will say that I would have grave reservations about meeting with persons involved in making protected disclosures while their cases are subject to an examination or investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC. This in no way reflects on the persons themselves but arises because of the imperative not to be seen to be interfering in any way with such examinations or investigations. There is nothing to prevent persons setting out in correspondence to me any concerns which they may have. They have the right to make further disclosures, if they feel there is further evidence, to GSOC, which is the body with the statutory powers, where appropriate, to investigate independently any such disclosures.