Written answers

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Department of Justice, Equality and Defence

Criminal Prosecutions

10:00 pm

Photo of Robert DowdsRobert Dowds (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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Question 395: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has any indication from the Director of Public Prosecutions on how his investigations into our banking scandals are progressing, in view of the state of public frustration and anxiety about this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20888/11]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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I attach the highest priority to the full investigation of white collar crime and bringing the perpetrators of such crime to justice. I have expressed, both before and since my appointment as Minister, my unhappiness with the protracted nature of the investigations. In so doing, I am not criticising those carrying out the investigations. It is clear that the complexities of the matters being investigated create tough challenges for investigators and prosecutors.

There is ongoing co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) in the investigation of such crime. Immediately after I took up office, I sought and was given assurances that there are sufficient resources available to such investigations. I have made it clear to those involved that if, at any stage, they believe that additional resources are required that will be responded to immediately.

It was in the light of my concerns that, on taking office, I gave priority to the introduction of the Criminal Justice Bill 2011, which recently passed all Stages in the House. It is my intention that the Bill's provisions will speed up investigations and prosecutions in this area, both future investigations and those currently underway, by improving a number of important procedural matters and strengthening Garda investigative powers.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is, of course, independent in the performance of his duties. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to enquire as to the status of his consideration of investigation files submitted to him for decision. I note however that he has welcomed my decision to introduce the Criminal Justice Bill. In his view, until now it has been a surprising omission in Irish law that potential witnesses cannot be compelled to cooperate with an investigation, even where they themselves are not suspected of or accused of any wrongdoing. In this regard, it is his view that the power of an Irish criminal investigator is considerably weaker than that of a tribunal of enquiry and that the new legislation would address this gap.

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