(1) The Minister may, with respect to any matter considered by him or her to be of public concern, on his or her own initiative or, in the case of a matter relating to policing services, either—
(a) having consulted with the Authority, or
(b) on the request of the Authority, where the Authority is satisfied that an inquiry should be ordered, by order appoint a person to—
(i) inquire into any aspect of the administration, operation, practice or procedure of the Garda Síochána, or the conduct of its members, and
(ii) make a report to the Minister on the conclusion of the inquiry.
(1A) If, following a request under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) from the Authority to do so, the Minister does not make an order under that subsection, the Minister shall inform the Authority of his or her reasons for not doing so.
(2) A person who, in the Minister’s opinion, has the experience, qualifications, training or expertise appropriate for the inquiry may be appointed to conduct the inquiry.
(3) The Minister shall, subject to subsection (3A), specify the terms of reference of the inquiry in the order under subsection (1) and may, by order, made at any time before the submission of the final report, amend those terms of reference for the purpose of clarifying, limiting or extending the scope of the inquiry.
(3A) Where the matter the subject of the inquiry relates to policing services, the Minister shall consult with the Authority before specifying or amending, as the case may be, the terms of reference of the inquiry.
(4) For the purpose of the inquiry, the appointed person—
(a) may require a member of the Garda Síochána, a member of the Authority nominated for that purpose by the Authority, or any other person, who possesses information or possesses or controls a document or thing that is relevant to the inquiry to provide the information, document or thing to the appointed person, and
(b) where appropriate, may require the member, member of the Authority or other person to attend before the appointed person for that purpose.
(5) The member, the member of the Authority or other person shall co-operate with the inquiry and answer fully and truthfully any question put to him or her by the appointed person.
(6) Where the member, member of the Authority or other person fails to comply with a requirement under subsection (4), the High Court may, on application by the appointed person and on notice to the member, member of the Authority or other person, as may be appropriate—
(a) order the member, member of the Authority or person to comply with the requirement, and
(b) include in the order any other provision it considers necessary to enable the order to have full effect.
(7) If the member, member of the Authority or other person fails to comply with such an order, the Court may treat the failure for all purposes as if it were a contempt of the Court.
(8) A failure by the member to comply with a requirement under subsection (4) may be the subject of disciplinary action in accordance with the Disciplinary Regulations.
(9) Any information, document or thing provided by a person in accordance with a requirement under subsection (4) is not admissible in any criminal proceedings against the person, and this shall be explained to the person in ordinary language by the appointed person.
(10) The Minister may publish all or part of any report received under this section.
(11) This section applies even if the matter considered by the Minister to be of public concern arose before the passing of this Act.
(12) The power to order an inquiry under this Act is additional to any power conferred by this or another Act relating to inquiries or investigations.
(13) In this section—
"appointed person" means a person appointed under this section to conduct an inquiry;
"criminal proceedings" does not include disciplinary proceedings.