Tuesday, 25 April 2006
Northern Ireland Issues.
Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
I am aware of the issues raised by Deputy Ó Caoláin but, although they may prove to be factual, the Deputy will understand that I cannot stand over the facts at this stage. However, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Ms O'Loan, has investigated the details to an enormous degree and has elaborated on them in a report she prepared over some months. That report is with the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland who has been considering it for the past six months. We will have to await the outcome of that process. Most of the facts noted by the Deputy have been stated here or by Mr. McCord and others.
On the question of assistance to Mr. McCord from the Irish Government, we have held a number of meetings with him over the past six months and officials of my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs will maintain contact with him and will continue to monitor the situation. When I met him on 22 March, I said that my officials would contact him to offer any assistance they could. I also told him that, in terms of seeking a public inquiry, it was best to await the outcome of Ms O'Loan's report and the statement of the Director of Public Prosecutions. I told him, based on the facts as I know them and subject to their substantiation in Ms O'Loan's report, which I have not seen, we would support him in seeking an inquiry. However, I told him that it would be best for the reports to be first entered into the public domain by the DPP and Ms O'Loan, which I understand will happen in the normal course of events. It is important that this is done at the appropriate time and based on the situation.
The facts are disturbing and Mr. McCord outlined the details to me at a number of meetings. He is a tremendously brave individual, a quality which has not been without problems for him. I will not elaborate on that but I admire him and think he deserves support for that reason. As I have promised to Deputy Rabbitte some months ago, we will continue to help him.