Written Answers. - Northern Ireland Issues.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

38 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when it is intended to act on the commitment given following the Weston Park talks to appoint a judge of international standing from outside both jurisdictions, to undertake an investigation into a number of murders in Northern Ireland and the Republic, in respect of which allegations had been made of collusion by the security forces; if this matter was discussed at recent meetings with the British Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2276/02]

It was agreed at Weston Park to appoint a judge of international standing to undertake a thorough investigation of allegations of collusion in the cases of Pat Finucane, Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, Superintendent Bob Buchanan, Robert Hamill, Lord Justice and Lady Gibson, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright. It was further agreed that, unless this was clearly prejudicial to forthcoming prosecutions, the judge would begin his or her investigation into each case no later than April of this year. Both Governments have agreed to abide by the findings and recommendations of the international judge including any recommendation for a public inquiry in any of these cases.

This matter has been the subject of ongoing and intensive discussions with the British authorities since Weston Park and I have discussed it with the Secretary of State, Dr. Reid, in the interim. Officials from both sides met on 18 January to discuss progress in finding a suitable candidate and how best to guide and support whoever may be appointed. Discussions have continued since then with a view to fulfilling the obligations undertaken at Weston Park. This issue will also be discussed when the Taoiseach meets the Prime Minister later this month.