McDowell defends Rossiter inquiry

The mechanism being used to investigate the death of Brian Rossiter is a rather odd one, and McDowell has come under fire because of it:

The Minister for Justice has insisted that the inquiry he has set up into the 2002 death of 14-year-old Brian Rossiter after a night in Garda custody will be able to get at the truth.

The Department of Justice issued a statement to this effect at the weekend after the Rossiter family’s solicitor Cian O’Carroll said he had concerns about the legislation on which the inquiry was based, the Dublin Police Act. Mr O’Carroll said he believed this Act only allowed for an investigation into alleged wrongdoing if there was a complaint against a specific named garda.

“For that reason, it would not appear to give Hugh Hartnett licence to embark into a general inquiry into the manner and condition of Brian Rossiter’s arrest and detention,” he said.

Officials at the Department of Justice worked over the weekend on the terms of reference for the statutory inquiry to be conducted by barrister Hugh Hartnett SC. Mr O’Carroll said yesterday that the Rossiter family would like the inquiry to take place in public, but they did not yet know whether this would happen.

The department said yesterday it would send the terms of reference to Mr Hartnett next week “following consultation with the relevant parties”. Mr O’Carroll confirmed yesterday that as the family’s representative, he was among those to be consulted.

“The terms of reference will enable Mr Hartnett to inquire into all the circumstances surrounding the arrest and treatment in custody of Brian Rossiter and the role of all gardaa­ who came into contact with him over the relevant period,” the Department said.

“The Minister is completely satisfied that this can be achieved through the inquiry format which has been decided upon, ie the Dublin Police Act 1924, as amended,” it added.

Mr O’Carroll said he believed the most appropriate mechanism to carry out a full and proper inquiry would be through the Commissions of Investigations Act 2004, which would allow for a comprehensive and more efficient inquiry.

On this score I would be inclined to agree with the family’s solicitor.

Here is the Dublin Police Act 1924
Here is the Commissions of Investigations Act 2004