Public interest investigations
The Garda Ombudsman may investigate matters in relation to the conduct of gardaí, when it is in the public interest, even if a complaint has not been received.
The Ombudsman Commission may decide to open such an investigation itself, or may be requested to do so by the Policing Authority or by the Minister for Justice and Equality. Following amendments in 2016, the Policing Authority or the Minister may also refer a matter for the Commission to consider whether it should investigate it in the public interest.
At the end of 2017, there were 24 investigations in the public interest ongoing. 10 of these had been requested in 2015 and 2016 by the Minister for Justice and Equality, on foot of the work of the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM).
What is the Independent Review Mechanism?
The Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) was established by the Minister for Justice and Equality, in consultation with the Attorney General, in May 2014. Its function was to consider allegations of Garda misconduct or inadequacies in the investigation of such allegations, with a view to determining to what extent and in what manner further action may be required in each case. It was one of the actions agreed by Government as a response to the Guerin report.
A panel of two Senior and five Junior Counsel was established for the purpose. The complaints (approximately 250) were in the form of letters, some of which were sent by the individuals directly, while others had been submitted through intermediaries, such as TDs or representative organisations. They arose from a wide variety of situations.
The review of each allegation consisted of an examination of the papers by a counsel from the panel. It did not involve interviews, interaction with complainants, or any other form of investigation, although counsel could recommend that the Minister seek further information to assist in coming to an appropriate recommendation in any particular case. In four cases, further information was sought from and provided by GSOC.
The purpose of the review was to go through the allegations to see if further investigations were needed. On foot of the reviews by the IRM panel, the Minister requested GSOC to conduct an investigation in relation to certain cases.
On foot of the work of the IRM, the Minister for Justice and Equality requested GSOC to undertake a number of investigations in the public interest. Their status is as follows:
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