Department of Justice to undergo ‘radical restructuring’

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has announced the appointment of a new secretary general to oversee a “radical restructuring” of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Civil servant Aidan O’Discroll will oversee within an ambitious nine-month timescale the implementation of the first report by the Effectiveness and Renewal Group (ERG).

The ERG was set up in January to examine the Department’s inner workings and will continue to produce quarterly reports.

One of the key new changes will be the creation of two internal divisions within the Department, one for “Home Affairs” and one for “Justice and Equality”, each led by a deputy secretary.

The first will be responsible for crime, policing and immigration, and the second for civil law reform, courts, equality and integration.

The most fundamental recommendation is the conversion of the Department from a topic-based “traditional model” to a “functional model”, under which both divisions’ functions would be divided across five units - policy, governance, legislation, transparency and operations - with each unit performing tasks solely related to its function.

Mr Flanagan said: “The Department of Justice and Equality is a central pillar of Government and every day it carries out vital work in the public interest. It has faced many difficult challenges in recent times and it is clear from the report of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group that its traditional structure is not equipping it to effectively meet the vast range of demands it faces today.

“I want to thank the Effectiveness and Renewal Group for an excellent report. The blueprint they have set out for the Department will help transform its structures and enable its very capable officials to undertake their important work in a better way. The continued engagement of the Group as we go forward is important.

“I look forward to working closely with Aidan O’Driscoll who I believe has the right blend of experience and qualifications to lead the change process in the Department at this crucial time. The Secretary General plays a vital leadership role and all of Aidan’s skills and experience will be required to ensure the successful internal restructuring of the Department and an effective response to the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, due in September.

“Complementing that process, the Effectiveness and Renewal Group proposes a model to enable the Department to manage its relationship with the Gardaí in a far more structured and impartial manner.”