Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
Commissions of Investigation
447. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the work undertaken to date in the matter of the Commission of Investigation known as the Hickson Inquiry which formally commenced on 1 November 2018; when public hearings will be held; when victims, survivors and complainants will be contacted with a view to providing statements and providing evidence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49526/21]
The Deputy will be aware that the Commission of Investigation established pursuant to S.I. 311/2018 (formerly known as the Hickson Commission) is tasked with the investigation of the extent to which a number of organisations, including State bodies, and individuals were aware of the activities of Bill Kenneally and whether they failed to take appropriate action.
Mr Justice Michael White is the sole member of the Commission replacing Mr Justice Barry Hickson following Judge Hickson’s retirement. While Judge White retired from judicial office on 1 October 2021, he has engaged with the work of the Commission since his appointment on 1 July 2021.
The work of the Commission is at an investigative phase. The Commission held an opening hearing in November 2019 which was attended by some of the survivors with their legal advisers and also had representatives of An Garda Síochána, the HSE, Tusla and Basketball Ireland.
During 2019 and 2020, the Commission’s legal team attended a number of locations on a number of occasions to interview relevant parties. The Commission’s legal team continues to contact relevant parties and interview witnesses. The Commission has received and reviewed a large volume of disclosure. It has also sought, on an ongoing basis, submissions from interested parties (having regard to its terms of reference) in relation to its ongoing work, including in relation to the scope for and conduct of physical hearings under the public health restrictions.
Minister Naughton met with the victims and their legal representation in June. Both Minister Naughton and I fully appreciate how important it is that this work progresses. I would continue to urge all victims and survivors to engage with the Commission.
As the Deputy will be aware, all Commissions of Investigation are completely independent in their work. As Minister, I cannot intervene in the process, nor direct the Commission in any way. The working pattern of any Commission of Investigation is a matter for the Commission itself, and it would not be appropriate for myself to advise the Commission in how to conduct its work.
I am advised that Judge White is committed to advancing the work of the Commission and I am assured that the Commission is active and working full time.
The Commission has at all times had, and will continue to have, due regard to its terms of reference.