Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
Commissions of Investigation
90. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the fact that transcripts delivered to GSOC on its investigation into certain matters arising from the O'Higgins commission were incomplete; if he has sought an update from GSOC regarding this investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51748/17]
I want to make clear at the outset that my Department provided to GSOC all the records within its power or procurement related to the O'Higgins Commission of Investigation.
On 11 January 2017, GSOC was granted a Court Order for access to certain records of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, including relevant transcripts of Commission hearings relating to allegations which arose following the publication of the Report of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation. This order was perfected on 19 January 2017.
In view of the necessity to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the Commission’s records, the Department had engaged the services of a barrister to examine the records and identify and schedule those covered by the court order. He did so and identified and scheduled for disclosure all the records which were in the Department’s possession from the Commission of Investigation.
The Department wrote to GSOC on 20 February enclosing copies of the documents from the Commission’s records deposited with the Minister which came within the terms of the order for disclosure. An examination of the Commission’s email correspondence did not disclose anything coming within the terms of the order and GSOC were so informed on 23 February.
On 23 February GSOC wrote to the CSSO saying that there were certain pages missing from the transcript for 24 June 2015 and advised that the missing pages were available from the stenographer. The Department received the missing pages on 28 February 2017 from the stenographer. On 1 March they were provided to GSOC following confirmation by the Department’s barrister that they came within the scope of the High Court Order. Separately, the barrister confirmed that the pages concerned were not among the records of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation which were deposited with the Minister.
I want to assure the Deputy that there was no question of transcripts being withheld from GSOC by the Department. As soon as the Department was alerted to the fact that there were missing transcripts, it took appropriate action to ensure that they were procured and provided to GSOC.
GSOC issued a statement on 22 November in which it said that the investigation is on-going.