Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
164. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when it is planned to commence the provisions setting up the Parole Board on a statutorily independent basis and to transfer decisions on granting parole to the board; if it is planned that decisions will be made before this date on all recommendations made by the Parole Board to her up to that date; the number of recommendations on hand in her Department at present awaiting Ministerial decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27626/21]
As the Deputy will be aware, the establishment of the Parole Board on a statutory footing is a priority action under Justice Plan 2021 which envisages the new Board being established by July 2021. The new Board will replace the interim Board that currently operates on an administrative basis. The Parole Act 2019 puts the Parole Board on an independent statutory footing and it sets out clear and transparent criteria for how the Board will reach its decisions, which will be independent of the Minister of the day.
This will considerably improve the system as it currently operates. A dedicated project team has been put in place to coordinate, track and drive forward the necessary work across the Department and the Sector.
The goal is for the full complement of Board members to be available for appointment by end-July 2021 or shortly thereafter. Mr Justice Michael White, a High Court Judge, has been identified as the inaugural Chairperson of the Parole Board on the nomination of the Chief Justice.
Nine other individuals - who will be appointed in accordance with subsections 10(3)(b) to 10(3)(h), inclusive, of the 2019 Act - have also been identified.
An open competition is currently underway, via the Public Appointments Service, in order to identify candidates suitable for appointment in accordance with subsections 10(3)(i) and 10(3)(j).
However, these appointments cannot be formalised until the Act has been commenced which is expected in July 2021 or shortly thereafter.
It is my intention that decisions will be made on all recommendations received from the non statutory Parole Board prior to the establishment of the Board on a statutory basis.
There are currently 19 cases awaiting Ministerial decision of which 14 were received on 27 May 2021.
Following receipt of recommendations from the Parole Board, detailed submissions based on the reports received with those recommendations are prepared for the Minister’s consideration. The remaining recommendations will be finalised as soon as possible.