Personal Statement by Minister.

The Minister for Justice wishes to make a personal statement.

On Thursday last, 27th May, I replied to a Parliamentary Question by Deputy Harte concerning the arrangements for the maintenance and repair of Garda cars. In supplementary questions the Deputy raised a specific matter which he had already raised earlier, namely, the question whether two Garda cars broke down in pursuit of a car believed to be used by persons who had engaged in a robbery. I said that I had already checked and re-checked with the Garda Síochána and the position was that only one car broke down.

Owing to Deputy Harte's insistence that a second car broke down, yet a further check was subsequently made and it has transpired that the information given to my Department by the Garda Síochána was incorrect. The second car did, in fact, break down inasmuch as there was a failure of the lighting system and, as it was dark at the time, the car was effectively out of use.

The circumstances in which despite a special check and re-check, misleading information was given are being investigated fully by the commissioner. For my part while I gave the House the information as supplied to me, I think it right first to correct the record, and secondly, to express my regret to the House and to Deputy Harte in particular that in replying to his supplementaries I did not allow for the possibility that the information supplied to my Department was incorrect, as it has turned out to be.

Mea culpa.

We are all very grateful to the Minister for this but it is a pity that on a more serious matter a similar explanation had not been given.