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New Secretary General must transform culture within Department of Justice – Ó Laoghaire

10 July, 2018 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice & Equality Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that, while the restructuring of the Department of Justice and Equality was long overdue, it will not in and of itself deliver the cultural change needed.

The Cork South-Central TD said:

“The need for Reform in The Department of Justice is apparent to all, and is urgently needed in a context of the resignation of two Justice Ministers and two Secretary Generals in recent times. There is a need for radical reform and culture change.

“The Report released today echoes much of what the Toland Report said about the flaws, and cultural failings within the Department of Justice.

“That report outlined, among other things, that a culture of undue deference existed between the Department of Justice, and An Garda Síochána, and that there was a closed, secretive, silo driven culture.

“The report by the Effectiveness and Renewal Group for the Department of Justice and Equality bears this out further, stating that ‘Department officials consistently dealing with the same Senior Garda Officers across all of these tasks leads to a mutual dependence and blurring of roles. People end up in the trenches together.’

“It also identified an ‘occasional severe failure to deliver sufficient transparency for the Minister, the Oireachtas and the public’, as well as a series of other issue regarding performance monitoring and efficiency.

“Notwithstanding the undoubted commitment and professionalism of the bulk of the Department of Justice staff, it is clear that progress since Toland has been limited, and that the same issues remain.

“I wish Aidan O’Driscoll well in his new role as Secretary General, and I look forward to working with him.

“It is positive that Justice and the Home Affairs sections have been separated, as is common practice in many European States, although it was our view that they should have full secretary generals above them, and consideration should be given to having Joint Oireachtas Committees for both portfolios for proper oversight of the two different portfolios.

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

“Although this is a welcome measure, we must acknowledge that it is not a panacea, and I do not believe it will deal with the key cultural issues in the Department.  

“The very serious cultural issues that appear to exist within the Department will not be eradicated by such a split, and will need to be dealt with by the incoming Secretary General, and it is transforming this, that needs to be the key focus for Mr O’Driscoll.” 

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