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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 12 Oct 1999

Vol. 509 No. 1

Other Questions. - Victims' Commission Report.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin


57 Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the discussions, if any, he has had on the report of the Victims' Commission. [17432/99]

Ruairí Quinn


294 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views of the report of the Victims' Commission; the action being taken in regard to any recommendations for which his Department has responsibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17767/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 294 together.

The report of the Victims' Commission, "A Place and a Name", was published on 5 August. As this is the first opportunity I have had to speak in the House on this matter since publication of the report I express my appreciation to the former Tánaiste, John P. Wilson, for his efforts in compiling it and for the understanding approach he adopted in meeting victims of violence and their relatives and in addressing their concerns. The confidence which all sides of the House expressed in Mr. Wilson has been well repaid. He is a most distinguished former politician and, dare I say, statesman and he has done an excellent job for us.

As regards implementation of the recommendations in the report, it states that a period of three months after publication should be allowed for responses to it from interested parties. Following such consultations an outline implementation plan should be produced within a further three months. In keeping with this recommendation, I invited interested parties to send their comments on the report to my Department by 5 November. At that stage I will bring proposals to Government regarding implementation of recommendations. This will take full account of the views expressed in the responses to the report.

However, two recommendations in the report were of sufficient urgency to warrant action at an early stage and in this regard Deputies will be aware that the Taoiseach announced in the Dáil on 29 September that the Government has decided that an eminent legal person should be appointed to inquire privately into the Dublin-Monaghan and Dundalk bombings and the case of Séamus Ludlow along the lines recommended in the report.

With regard to the other recommendations in the report I have asked all Departments and public agencies affected by the recommendations to formulate their responses and initiate action, where appropriate, as quickly as possible.

In view of the fact that we are still in the first stage of the follow-up to the report, during which interested parties can make a response, and that it will be for the Government to decide on implementation, Deputies will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to indicate at this point what action the Government might take in regard to recommendations other than the two I have mentioned.

Is the Minister aware of the extent of public interest, particularly in the Border counties, in his and the Cabinet's response to recommendations in the report? There is also disquiet that the report, while recognising that the displaced – those forced to leave their homes in the North as a result of fear or threats and who moved to this jurisdiction in large numbers in the early years of the conflict – have not had their circumstances reflected in Mr. Wilson's recommendations concerning measures that might be introduced to provide monetary compensation. Will the Minister advise if he will reflect their victimhood in his final recommendations? Will he note the concerns expressed this morning by relatives of the late Mr. Séamus Ludlow and those of the victims of the Dundalk and Castleblaney bombings?

My understanding is that the Dundalk bombings are included in the Government decision regarding the investigation by an eminent person. It is not the intention of the Government, nor was it the intention of Mr. Wilson, to lock the doors on a public inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan or Dundalk bombings. After the investigation has taken place, the report will be published. Following that we will see whether a recommendation is forthcoming to the effect that there should be a public inquiry. The Government will give consideration to that matter at that point. As regards compensation, my understanding is that the report recommends payment to past victims.

Acting Chairman

The time has now elapsed. I note that Deputies Howlin and Higgins wish to raise supplementary questions. I ask them to make their questions brief.

In relation to an earlier Dublin bomb at a cinema adjacent to O'Connell Bridge, has the Minister considered including that in the purview of the inquiry? If he has not done so to date, will he please include it? There are many people who have a clear interest in understanding who perpetrated that outrage.

(Mayo): My question is essentially the same as that asked by Deputy Howlin. Why has the Sackville Place bombing not been included in the remit of this eminent legal person? The Dublin-Monaghan bombing was on the same scale as that of Omagh, yet no commemorative plaque has been erected. Will the Government consider erecting a memorial or commemorative plaque to commemorate this tragic event?

The Government will give consideration to any matter which might bring comfort to the families of the victims in all these cases. The position in regard to other bombings and atrocities is that the Government naturally condemns them. The difficulty is that we had to have terms of reference in asking Mr. Wilson to formulate his report. Equally, on receipt of the report, we had to reach certain conclusions on matters where he made recommendations. The decision of the Government is necessarily confined to certain matters.