Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (32, 33, 34, 35)

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

27 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the promised tribunal of inquiry arising from the Cory report will be established; the form it will take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2471/04]

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Joe Higgins

Question:

28 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the Government's progress to date in implementing the recommendations of Judge Cory's reports. [1839/04]

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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

31 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the report of Judge Cory will be published. [31081/03]

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Michael D. Higgins

Question:

134 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the Government plans to publish the report of the inquiry being carried out by Mr. Justice Peter Cory into allegations that some members of the security forces in the Republic and in Northern Ireland may have co-operated with terrorist organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30498/03]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 28, 31 and 134 together.

Following agreement reached between the Irish and British Governments at Weston Park in 2001, Mr. Justice Peter Cory, a retired Canadian supreme court judge, was appointed to undertake a thorough investigation of allegations of collusion between British and Irish security forces and paramilitaries in six cases. Two of the cases — the murders of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan and the murders of Northern Ireland Lord Justice Maurice Gibson and Lady Cecily Gibson — relate to allegations of collusion by the Garda Síochána and these reports were submitted to the Irish Government. The other four cases — the murders of Mr. Pat Finucane, Mr. Robert Hamill, Ms Rosemary Nelson and Mr. Billy Wright — relate to allegations of collusion by British security forces and these were submitted to the British Government.

The aim of the process was to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of collusion between state security forces and those responsible for the killings in each case to warrant a public inquiry. Following receipt of Government approval, I published the two reports submitted to the Irish Government on 18 December 2003. Copies of the these reports are available in the Oireachtas Library.

In respect of the killings of Lord and Lady Gibson, Mr. Justice Cory concluded that there is no evidence of collusion that would warrant the holding of an inquiry. Accordingly, no further action by the Government is required in this case. In respect of the killings of the two RUC officers, Mr. Justice Cory concluded that evidential material was revealed that, if accepted, could be found to constitute collusion. As a result, Mr. Justice Cory considers that there must be a public inquiry into these killings. It is important to note, however, that Mr. Justice Cory did not find that collusion had taken place; the nature of his investigation allowed him to conclude only that there is sufficient evidence to warrant a public inquiry.

Accordingly, in keeping with the commitments of the two Governments as part of the Weston Park agreement, I have secured Government approval for the establishment of a tribunal of inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921-2002, with the scope to inquire into allegations that employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings of the two RUC officers on 20 March 1989. My Department is currently drafting specific terms of reference for the tribunal, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, and I intend to secure further Government approval as soon as possible to bring the necessary resolutions before both Houses of the Oireachtas.