Wednesday, 4 April 2007
Jim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
Does the Minister accept the current system does not work properly and we must, therefore, look for a new system? Furthermore, does he accept that the suggestion that ultimate authority lies with the Oireachtas may be fine in theory, but does not work in practice? Does he not recollect that only last week the Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, which represents the Oireachtas, dealt with a series of Votes dealing with justice worth €2.5 billion? For a variety of reasons, mainly due to the time available to the committee, these Votes were dealt with over a period of only one and a half hours. This is not effective accountability. Does the Minister accept it is possible to have an independent Garda authority, which could do good work, and still have a Minister accountable to the House? Does he accept that this does not preclude the establishment of an all-party Oireachtas security committee, something for which I have been calling for years? These are not mutually exclusive.
We should start from the position that the current system does not work properly and look for a new and better way to work. I have listened to the Minister in the past and raised issues such as no anti-stab vests for gardaí, no proper training procedures or indoor ranges for training on firearms. His normal response is that the Garda Commissioner has all the resources he needs and that he will get whatever he asks for. We know this is complete baloney. We also know the Commissioner cannot stand up openly and say it is baloney and that it is not possible.
We should, therefore, create an interposing body, the composition of which can be open to discussion. I do not see it as one that should be overloaded with politicians, but they should not be automatically excluded nor be in the majority. I am not sure there should be any politicians on it.