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Ireland has a Witness Protection Programme and we’ve spent €400k on it this year

The protection programme was set up as gardaí tackled gangland crime.

shutterstock_153830195 Source: Shutterstock/GlebStock

THE WITNESS SECURITY Programme has cost the state nearly €5 million since 2010.

Answering a parliamentary question, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald outlined the following figures:

witness

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The expenditure in relation to 2012 is reflected in out-turn for 2013, while the final out-turn for 2014 will only be available when the Comptroller and Auditor General has finalised the relevant Appropriation Accounts.

Criminal justice system 

To date, €4,930,000 has been spent on the programme, which puts people into hiding to protect the normal functioning of the criminal justice system. It’s used to prevent criminals using threats of violence and systematic intimidation of witnesses.

The protection programme was established in 1997 in response to gangland crime. 

Fitzgerald said by virtue of the highly confidential nature of the Witness Security Programme and the need to maintain the protection of persons who receive support from that programme, it has not been the practice of successive ministers to detail the specifics of its operation.

I can say, however, that it has been operated in a significant number of cases and that over the course of its operation over many years it has proven its worth in helping to secure the conviction of very serious organised crime leaders.

Gardaí

The Witness Security Programme is operated by the gardaí and is overseen by the Crime and Security Section at Garda Headquarters supported by the Special Detective Unit and other local garda resources.

The operation of the programme and the resources required for it are kept under continuous review by the garda authorities, said the minister.

The Justice minister indicated that the Programme for Government contains a commitment to provide statutory guidelines for the Witness Security Programme, which currently operates on an administrative basis.

“Consideration of legislative framework to give effect to this commitment is under active consideration in my Department.”

Read: A new body aims to radically change An Garda Síochána>

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