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Garda Síochána "does not engage in ethnic profiling"

Minister Alan Shatter said that all persons are subject to the same PULSE recording procedures.

Image: Woman via Shutterstock

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA does not engage in racial profiling and all people are subject to the same PULSE recording procedures, the Justice Minister has said.

Minister Alan Shatter made the comment to deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly in reply to a number of Dáil questions asking him about allegations that Traveller children’s details are being put into the PULSE system.

Today, Wallace and Daly welcomed the announcement of the inquiry into the latest Garda controversy, saying that the proposed terms of reference must be debated and settled in the house “on a basis of cross-party co-operation”.

They said the terms must include an examination of the role and knowledge of the Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s office and the Minister (s) of Justice, in addition to the role of the gardaí.

They also said the terms should incorporate the three reviews into Garda controversies set up in recent weeks.

Racial profiling

In addition, the two deputies said the terms of reference should include an examination of the Garda whistleblower allegations regarding the alleged registration of details of Travellers on the PULSE system, including babies and children.

They sent a letter to Shatter on 12 March about this issue, asking him to extend the terms of reference of Sean Guerin’s review to include the allegations that the details of 40 Traveller families were entered into PULSE.

In a written answer to Clare Daly on Tuesday 11 March, Shatter said that there are no proposals to amend the terms.

PULSE system

Daly and Wallace released the answers this evening to a number of Dáil questions they put to Minister Shatter on the issue of allegations of Travellers’ details being entered into PULSE.

They asked him about the steps that both he and the then-Commissioner Martin Callinan have taken since he was made aware of the whistleblower’s allegations.

In reply, Shatter said:

I am informed by the Commissioner that PULSE does not solely capture information on offenders, but is also used to store information on Garda interactions with individuals, whether adults or children, such as victims of crime, persons injured in road traffic accidents and child welfare incidents. All persons are subject to the same PULSE recording policy and procedures.

Shatter said that Callinan assured him “that the Garda Síochána does not engage in ethnic profiling”.

He said “specifically that it does not engage in data gathering or data mining based upon discriminatory profiling in respect of race, colour, language, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin, ethnicity or membership of the traveller community”.

Wallace also asked Shatter if he would confirm that he will extend the terms of reference of the inquiry into the Roma children controversy to include an examination of Garda racial profiling practices and the decision to remove the two Roma children from their families.

Shatter said that he does not propose to amend the terms.

Racial profiling

In a further question, Wallace asked the Minister the steps he has taken to address the findings regarding Garda racial profiling as set out in the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance report of February 2013.

He also asked if his programme for legislative reform will include a bill to prohibit racial profiling by Gardaí.

Shatter said that the European Commission report makes no allegation that such profiling is actually carried out.

“This is not surprising given that an Garda Síochána do not engage in racial profiling,” he said.

Racial profiling in services offered by the Gardaí is already prohibited under Equal Status legislation, added the Minister.

However, investigation of crime, public order etc are not services – they come under the controlling functions of the State and, as such, are outside the scope of equality legislation. The question of whether we should create a legislative prohibition therefore needs to be considered in that light.

The Justice Minister said he believes “it is perfectly possible to operate an effective system of immigration control without resorting to racial profiling” but relying instead on good intelligence and the professional judgement and experience of Gardaí and immigration officers.

He added that he will consider this matter further in the development of the Immigration Protection and Residence Bill. He is due to propose that the bill be republished later this year.

Read: “General snooping” likely reason gardaí looked up model 80 times — Data Commissioner>

Read: Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has resigned>

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