Written answers

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Department of Justice and Equality

Northern Ireland

Photo of Michael MoynihanMichael Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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17. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the status of ongoing discussions with his UK counterpart on the Kingsmill massacre. [28213/19]

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois, Fine Gael)
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The murder of ten innocent workmen at Kingsmill in January 1976 was an appalling atrocity and the Irish Government is committed to co-operating fully and in accordance with law with the Northern Ireland Coroner’s Inquest into the Kingsmill murders.  In line with this commitment, a substantial amount of relevant evidential material in the possession of An Garda Síochána has been transferred by them to the Northern Ireland Coroner. 

The transfer of sensitive or personal information from one jurisdiction to another must, of course be carried out on a proper basis in order to be lawful.  At the time of the commencement of the Kingsmill inquest, there was no formal framework in place to facilitate such cooperation with a civil inquest in Northern Ireland.  The Government took measures in the form of a Directive under Section 25 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and making Regulations under of the Data Protection Acts which facilitated the Garda Commissioner in making material available to the Northern Ireland Coroner.  These measures have facilitated the Garda Authorities to transfer material to the inquest.  

The Garda Authorities have continuously sought to cooperate with the Northern Ireland Coroner and his legal team as part of what is an ongoing legal process.  I can assure the Deputy that every effort has been made to facilitate further cooperation, both formally and informally, insofar as that can be done in accordance with the law.  The Deputy will be aware that on 12 July 2019, the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 2019 was passed by the Oireachtas.  The Act was commenced by me on 4 September.  The primary purpose of the Act is to facilitate co-operation by An Garda Síochána with Coroners’ Inquests in Northern Ireland and Great Britain that are examining troubles-related deaths, whether caused by paramilitaries or by the security forces, and that have a substantial connection with this State.

The Government is fully committed to taking actions to address the painful legacy of the past in Northern Ireland and implementing the relevant provisions of the Stormont House Agreement is a priority objective, one which was prominent in the recent negotiations on the formation of a new Northern Ireland Executive.  The Government will continue to engage with all parties in seeking agreement on how to best advance the implementation of that framework.

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