Tuesday, 28 June 2005
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Question 610: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider asking the Garda to reopen its investigation into the fatal fire at a hotel (details supplied) in County Donegal on 8 August 1980; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22560/05]
I am informed by the Garda authorities that this fire occurred in a hotel in County Donegal on 8 August 1980 where ten people tragically lost their lives. The exact cause of the fire was not conclusively established. However, an investigation was conducted and the indications were that the cause of the fire was an electrical fault leading to overheated wires behind facia boards.
There is no information currently available to justify re-opening the investigation into the matter at this time.
Question 611: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a request from a person (details supplied) in County Donegal for access to his Department's files on the circumstances of a fatal fire in County Donegal in 1980; if, in view of the exceptional circumstances of this case, he will consider granting access to these files; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22561/05]
Question 612: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider using the powers available to him, under section 1 of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1998, to have the Attorney General consult with Mr. Justice Morris with a view to seeking his consent for an amendment to the terms of reference so that the Morris tribunal be requested to inquire into the circumstances of a fatal fire in Bundoran, County Donegal in 1980 in which ten people lost their lives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22562/05]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 611 and 612 together.
The question of the extension of the terms of reference of the Morris tribunal to cover the tragic event in question was raised by the person concerned and by Members of the House around the time of the establishment of the tribunal. I also understand that it was the subject of a request under the Freedom of information Act which was dealt with in accordance with the provisions of that Act.
At the time I indicated that the circumstances surrounding the fire, including matters referred to in the letter from the person concerned, were raised at the time of the original investigation and that no evidence of criminality was found. The person concerned and the Deputies who made representations on his behalf were told that if he had further new information or additional material in his possession, this should be made available to the Garda authorities or to the Garda Complaints Board to whom any complaint about the manner in which the Garda investigation was conducted should ordinarily be addressed.
With regard to any extension of the terms of reference of the Morris tribunal, the position is that the existing terms of reference were adopted by the Houses of the Oireachtas as both definite, as required by the legislation, and comprehensive and are based on the recommendations of Mr. Shane Murphy, SC. It is not proposed to seek to extend them at this stage but it is open to the tribunal to seek an extension if it believes that the existing terms of reference constrain it from inquiring into a related definite matter of public importance.