POLITICS: Splitting of the Justice Department ‘not a panacea’ – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

28 December 2017
By Mary Bermingham

Cork South Central Sinn Féin TD and Justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has welcomed the announcement that the Department of Justice is to be divided into two new Departments, but said that greater detail as to the future delineation is required.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire has also called for the Toland group to be reconvened, saying that the report is now three years old and that independent evaluation is required.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“The Toland report is over three years old and its full implementation should have long since been completed. The recent controversies illustrate that, unfortunately, the culture of secrecy, silos, and undue deference remains. It is welcome that the Toland Report is being implemented, if even in a partial manner. The time for change in the Department of Justice is long overdue.

“New experience and viewpoints are also required in the new Departments. External candidates must be considered for the positions of Secretary General and any new deputy secretary positions, to to breathe life into the new Departments.

“It is my view that both the Justice and the Home Affairs sections should have full secretary generals and full Oireachtas committees.

“However, the recommendation to split the Department was, I believe, intended to deal with the efficiency of the Department and the enormous workload it has.

“It is not a panacea and I do not believe it will deal with the key cultural issues in the department.

“The Toland Report was quite pointed in its view that a large cultural shift is required in Justice. The culture of secrecy in the current Department has shifted from operational necessity to a fundamental characteristic.

“The clear communication between the Department and an Garda Síochána, and it is clear that there was communication at this point, on the legal strategy to smear Sergeant Maurice McCabe in a most dreadful way is another example of bad institutional culture, namely being overly deferential to the Gardaí.

“The report on the implantation of the Toland Report, published by Government on November 24th last, was conducted by the Department itself, it was self evaluation. I believe that the Toland group should be reconvened so as to give independent oversight in to the extent of the implementation of the report, particularly on the recommendations on culture and management

“This split cannot simply be an administrative exercise. It must lead to real and substantive changes in attitudes and behaviour within the Department which has to date preferred to shroud itself in secrecy.” ENDS

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