Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Tribunals of Inquiry
Question 91: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the latest information available to him regarding the progress made by the Smithwick tribunal established by resolution of the Oireachtas in March 2005 and when the tribunal intends to commence public hearings; the evidence that has been taken in public; if the tribunal has secured the co-operation of all potential witnesses, particularly those form outside the jurisdiction; if the tribunal intends to publish any interim report on its progress since 2005; the total costs incurred by the tribunal to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43018/10]
The Smithwick Tribunal was established pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921-2002, to enquire into suggestions that members of the Garda Síochána or other employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Bob Buchanan in 1989. The Tribunal was established by resolutions passed by the Oireachtas in March 2005.
The Deputy will be aware that the Tribunal Chairman, Judge Peter Smithwick, is independent in his functions in accordance with the provisions of the Acts. The terms of the Resolutions of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann and the Instrument establishing the Tribunal provide for the submission of interim reports to the Clerk of the Dáil within ten days of the commencement of oral hearings regarding the granting of representation before the Tribunal, progress to date, likely duration and any other matters which the Tribunal considers appropriate. I am informed that the Tribunal is in an investigative phase at present and that public hearings will take place once that phase is completed.
As to whether the Tribunal has secured all the co-operation it requires, that is a matter for the Tribunal itself and will, I have no doubt, be addressed by the Chairman in the final report. In any event, the Resolutions passed by the Oireachtas permit the Chairman to write to the Clerk of the Dáil if he believes that he is not receiving full co-operation.