I propose to take Questions Nos. 296, 300, 301, 303 and 304 together.
I am aware of the recent coverage about the death of the person in question and her infant baby in 1984. This was a particularly tragic case and one that still resonates with the Irish people after all this time.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that an inquest was held into the death of the person in question on 21 February 1984. The Coroner, in the independent performance of his duties, directed the jury to deliver a verdict of death consistent with the pathologist’s findings which, I understand, related to complications arising from childbirth.
As you may be aware, the Coroner's Act 1962 provides that a coroner is a statutory officer exercising quasi-judicial functions, in relation to which he or she is independent. The Minister for Justice and Equality has no role in the scheduling or conduct of an inquest, which is a matter for the relevant Coroner.
I am further advised by An Garda Síochána that an investigation into this matter took place and a file was prepared and forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which issued a direction that there was to be no prosecution in the matter. As the Deputies will appreciate, the question of whether or not a particular person should be prosecuted, and for what criminal offence, is the sole responsibility of the DPP, who is independent in the performance of her functions.
In relation to the Garda investigation file on this case, I have been advised that the file in question is located at Granard Garda Station. I have asked my officials to check what papers are held on the matter in my own Department and I will communicate further with the Deputy in that regard.
The Deputies will appreciate that any decision to conduct further investigations into this matter is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I, as Minister for Justice and Equality, have no role in an operational matter such as this. The question of the holding of a Commission of Investigation into the matter is not one that I am aware of having arisen and I have no plans in this regard.
The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42.
I am now advised that my Department holds one legacy file in relation to this case from 1984. I am further advised that the file in question is a duplicate copy of the Garda investigation file into the death of Ann Lovett. I hope you will appreciate that given the sensitive nature of the file, and the fact that it refers to details of a Garda investigation, I do not intend to publish its contents. I have, however, instructed my officials to bring the existence of the file to the attention of the Garda authorities.