Thursday, 15 January 2015
Department of Justice and Equality
Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission
35. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the controversies surrounding the relationship between GSOC and the Gardaí, and the fact that the outgoing Chairman of GSOC was directly overseeing a number of important cases with very serious implications for senior Gardaí, if she will confirm that these issues are unconnected with their decision to resign and that she has met them and discussed this matter. [1364/15]
I was informed by Mr Simon O'Brien, Chairman of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), that he intends to resign his position with effect from 30 January, 2015. Mr O’Brien has clearly indicated that his resignation arises as a result of his success in securing the position of Chief Executive of the Pensions Ombudsman Service in the UK, and he is due to take up that position on 2 February 2015.
Mr O'Brien made an important contribution to his role as Chairperson of GSOC as well as his previous role as Deputy to the Chief Inspector in the Garda Inspectorate, and I wish him all the best in his endeavours in his new career. My Department has been assured by GSOC that no ongoing investigations will be adversely affected by his resignation. I am not privy to the reasons why Gardaí might decide to resign, or to retire (for example, as the Deputy is aware, members are eligible to leave An Garda Síochána on full pension if they have 30 years service and have reached the age of 50 years, and many avail of that opportunity).
With regard to the vacancy arising on foot of Mr O’Brien’s resignation, the appointment of members of Ombudsman Commission is governed by s.65 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This stipulates that the Commission consists of 3 members, all of whom are to be appointed by the President on the nomination of the Government following resolutions by both Houses recommending the appointment. The Act requires that the Government must be satisfied that persons nominated have the appropriate experience, qualifications, training or expertise for appointment having regard to the functions of the Commission.
The Government will now, in accordance with the 2005 Act, consider the question of a nomination for the position of Chairperson of GSOC.