I propose to take Questions Nos. 225 to 227, inclusive, and 229 together.
I welcome the publication of the report by the former Supreme Court judge, Henry Barron, into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The bombings were terrible outrages, which left 34 people dead and more than 240 injured. Many people never recovered and for many others, the legacy of pain and suffering remains and some still suffer from their injuries to this day. Like everyone else who watched the proceedings of the sub-committee considering the Barron report last week, I found the accounts of the victims and families about the events of that day and their terrible suffering profoundly moving.
I was very glad to have had the opportunity, together with Mr. Justice Barron, to meet with representatives of Justice for the Forgotten at their request on Wednesday, 10 December, before the publication of the report on what was a very important day, especially for the families.
At that meeting, I thanked Mr. Justice Barron and his team for their work in bringing that phase of their work to a conclusion and I paid tribute to Justice for the Forgotten for its assistance to the inquiry and for its dedication and tenacity in pursuing its campaign for the truth. I also paid tribute to the earlier work of the former Chief Justice, the late Liam Hamilton.
The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights is now considering, including in public session, the report of the independent commission and it will report back to the Dáil and Seanad in March with its findings on whether the report addresses all of the issues covered in the terms of reference of the inquiry; the lessons to be drawn and any actions to be taken in the light of the report, its findings and conclusions; and, whether, having regard to the report's findings, and, following consultations with the inquiry, a further public inquiry into any aspect of the report would be required or fruitful. The committee may also accept, including in public session, submissions on the report from interested persons and bodies.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Paul Murphy, has said that the British Government will consider the report with great care and he has said that the British Government, from Prime Minister Blair down, has been committed to helping the inquiry as fully as possible. He also said after the meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Farmleigh last week that the British Government wanted to be as helpful as possible. I am aware that the Secretary of State, as well as some of his predecessors, have been invited by the sub-committee to assist it in its work and I would hope that the assistance already referred to also extends to the work of the sub-committee. At my most recent meeting with Prime Minister Blair on Monday, 19 January I asked for the fullest co-operation from the British Government with the Oireachtas sub-committee.
I understand that Mr. Justice Barron will report early in the coming months on the Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973 and following that report, on the other cases referred to him, including the Séamus Ludlow case, the Dundalk bombing of 1975 and in the context of these reports he will report on the Belturbet bombing.
The total cost of the Barron inquiry to date is approximately €2,541,000. This includes an amount of approximately €693,000 for the legal expenses of the Justice for the Forgotten group and €167,000 for the administrative expenses of the group. Currently, the administrative costs of the group, as well as the services to victims provided by the group, are also being paid for by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In this regard, approximately €0.5 million has been paid to date. In addition, offers have been made to the legal representatives of the relatives in connection with the inquests of the those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
The members of the Remembrance Fund Commission were appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in December 2003. A sum of €9 million has been allocated to the commission for victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland for dispersal over the next three years.
The fund was established following on from the report of the former Tánaiste, John Wilson, the sole member of the Victims Commission. The report made a number of recommendations, including regarding acknowledgement payments to those who were bereaved as a result of the conflict and also relating to the ongoing medical expenses of victims who are still suffering as a result of their injuries. It is expected that the commission will be in a position to invite applications for funding shortly.