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Justice reforms not radical enough

10 July 2018

Statement by Sean Sherlock TD
Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs

Labour Justice spokesperson, Sean Sherlock TD has said that a truly radical reform of Justice would have seen it split into two separate Departments of State.

Deputy Sherlock said:

"What the Minister has today called a radical restructuring of the Justice Department was first proposed in the Toland report in July 2014, but does not go far enough in our view to draw a clear line under recent controversies, and provide a clean break with the past.

"That it has taken this long simply to implement what was strongly recommended four years ago sums up the shocking failure of Fine Gael to deliver on justice reforms.

"While it is welcome that finally that structure will be changed with the introduction of two new divisions, it is not radical enough. The Department is simply too big with too many major policy issues requiring detailed attention.

"Labour believes a truly radical reform would have been a full structural split into two new Departments of State, with a Department of Justice and Equality, and a Department of Home Affairs. Such a change would ensure two separate management structures with two Secretaries General. It would finally address the organisational failures, and demonstrate a clear division of policy areas allowing better management of priorities.

"This would have ensured the clear separation, and reform needed to transform a Department that has lost two Secretary Generals and two Ministers in recent years.

"Similar changes to this occurred in the UK in 2007 when functions of the Home Office were combined with the Department of Constitutional Affairs to form a new Ministry of Justice alongside the Home Office.

"Such a transformational split here would have ended business as usual. Such a model was applied to the Department of Finance after the economic crash, and there is no reason why one Minister couldn't be in charge of two structurally separated Departments."