Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 2.30 p.m.
Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach if
he has received a further interim report from the MacEntee Commission
into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings; if it is intended to publish
this report; if a request for a further extension of the deadline for
completion of its work has now been received from the commission; if it
is intended to grant the request; and if he will make a statement on the
Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach when
it is expected that the report of Patrick MacEntee SC on the
investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974 and related
matters will be published; and if he will make a statement on the
Sargent asked the Taoiseach if
he has received a further interim report from the MacEntee Commission
into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings; when a final report can be
expected; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
J. Higgins asked the Taoiseach if
he has received a further interim report from the MacEntee Commission.
Kenny asked the Taoiseach if
he has received a further report from the MacEntee Commission; and if he
will make a statement on the matter. [25546/06]
The Taoiseach: I
propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.
On 26 April 2005, the Government appointed Mr. Patrick MacEntee SC as
sole member of a commission of investigation to examine specific matters
relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, including aspects
of the Garda investigation and missing documentation. This was in
accordance with the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Justice,
Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights which considered the Barron
report on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.
As the House knows, I previously granted three extensions of the
timeframe for the completion of the report, from 14 November 2005 to 31
January 2006, again to 28 February 2006 and then again to 31 May 2006. I
also published the three interim reports from Mr. MacEntee and placed
copies in the Oireachtas Library.
At the end of May, Mr. MacEntee informed me that more time was
required to complete the inquiry to pursue a new line of investigation
which has arisen. He therefore requested a further extension of the
timeframe until 31 July 2006, which I have granted. He also provided me
with a further fourth interim report, as required by the legislation. I
have published that report and have placed copies in the Oireachtas
Library. It is clear from this fourth interim report that Mr. MacEntee
requires more time to pursue specific inquiries as there remain
important opportunities to advance the investigation that might
otherwise be lost. It is for that reason that I have granted the
It is, of course, unfortunate that the victims and survivors of these
terrible atrocities will have to wait a further period before the final
report is available. However, I believe they will agree on the
importance of Mr. MacEntee being allowed sufficient time to pursue any
lines of inquiry that he deems relevant.
I am grateful to Mr. MacEntee for the work he has completed to date.
As he is independent, I am not in a position to comment on his ongoing
Mr. Rabbitte: We
all agree with what the Taoiseach has said about Mr. MacEntee being
given adequate time to make whatever investigations he thinks might be
fruitful. I wish, however, to ask the Taoiseach a couple of questions.
As he said, the commission of investigation arises from the unresolved
matters on the Barron inquiry. I am reminded of a parliamentary question
on 28 March to the Taoiseach and his reply in the House where he
referred to a still outstanding report due from Mr. Justice Barron. He
went on to say that this report had been received during February and
that he hoped that consideration of it by the Department of Justice,
Equality and Law Reform would not take long. He advised the House that
his manner of mediating it into the public domain would be to send it to
the Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights.
To the best of my knowledge, that has not yet been done. Given that the
Taoiseach’s statement was on 28 March, perhaps he will tell the House
why it has not been done and indicate the Government’s intention in
the matter now?
Going back to the MacEntee commission and the four interim reports
the Taoiseach has taken, are there circumstances where the Taoiseach
would invite Mr. MacEntee to make another interim report in the matter
of the missing files from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law
Reform? This was one of the areas into which he was to inquire. I do not
know whether that part of the inquiry has been completed and, if so,
will the Taoiseach consider inviting him to make an interim report on
that aspect? In respect of the entities that have met the commission, as
referred to in the May interim report, can the Taoiseach say if the
meeting referred to in that interim report was with a former member of
the British security services? Does the Taoiseach have that information
and, if so, will he advise the House? Has the Taoiseach any information
on whether it is probable that the latest extension to 31 July is likely
to be met by the commission on this occasion?
The Taoiseach: Regarding
the first question, Mr. Justice Barron presented his final report to me
in February 2006, as stated in the March reply to parliamentary
questions. The report was considered by the relevant Departments and
officials reviewed the report and held a meeting with Mr. Justice Barron
to discuss the issues that needed to be addressed before the matter was
brought before the Government. This was some time ago. Following that
meeting, Mr. Justice Barron felt that certain revisions to the structure
of the report were required. He undertook to make these changes and
present a revised version of the report to me. I stress to the House
that these revisions related to the structure of the report only, they
did not in any way change the findings of the report. The final report
was considered by the Government this morning and it is intended to
bring a motion before the House later this week to refer the report to
the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights.
As with all these reports, what delayed issues, apart from
restructuring and layout, was that the report covered quite a number of
attacks. Mr. Justice Barron put an omnibus end to his report, which
included not only Dundalk but also referred to other attacks by loyalist
paramilitaries, for example, the Castleblayney bombs, the Dublin Airport
bomb and other bombings in the State. It also included a number of
attacks in Northern Ireland, on the Miami showband, the Rock Bar, Keady,
Donnelly’s Bar, Silver Birch, the Reavey and O’Dowd families in
south Armagh and the murders of Seán Farmer and Colm McCartney. He also
referred to the explosion and murder at Baronrath bridge in County
Kildare. It is a fine report and includes many aspects that were not in
the previous report. He has made structural changes.
The cause of much of the delay was that there were a number of names
mentioned. Mr. Justice Barron has redacted a number of them, but not
all. Subject to correction, there are approximately 15 names of people
involved and these will be published in the final report. At least the
report says they were involved.
On the MacEntee report, I understand the aspect about which Deputy
Rabbitte inquired, the Garda investigations and the files on it, the
investigative work is complete and I understand that Mr. MacEntee’s
recommendations are also complete. I have not seen them, but I
understand he will make recommendations. To the best of my knowledge, I
can confirm, from what I know from my officials who have been dealing
with this, that the individual involved is of British intelligence, but
I am not certain about his precise role. I understand that the
investigative work of the commission is substantially complete, but some
legal obligations must be fulfilled before the report is finalised.
To answer the Deputy’s last question, I might receive a formal
request for another extension, but I gather that will only be to
complete the work beyond 31 July. We should have the report in the early
autumn. I understand Mr. MacEntee wants to complete it and get on with
other work. He wants to see it through in this session. In response to a
question asked earlier, the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality,
Defence and Women’s Rights suggested Mr. MacEntee should look at some
other aspects of different work, but I understand he does not want to do
that. He wants to finish this job that he undertook to do rather than
become engaged in other issues. He feels this is his responsibility and
wants to finish it before the holiday and report to us.
Mr. Rabbitte: I
do not want to unnecessarily probe a delicate area, but can the
Taoiseach say any more about structural changes? It strikes me as a
slightly unusual practice to accept a report from Mr. Justice Barron and
for Department officials to recommend changes as to structure. Were
there other changes or was factual matter questioned in that regard? I
presume my tabling of the question and the Cabinet considering the
matter at their meeting this morning is entirely a coincidence. When did
the Taoiseach receive the report? He will be aware of the debate in the
House about a number of reports such as the Barr report, the Dalton
report, the O’Sullivan report and the Barron report, all of which are
publishable at the caprice of the Government some time during the
recess. It would have been preferable if these reports had been made
available while the Dáil was formally in session. When did the
Government receive the revised version, the original of which was
received last February? If the Government approved it at a Cabinet
meeting this morning, is it intended to put it into the public domain
before the House rises?
The Taoiseach: The
only changes made related to the structure of the report. The last
module was solely about the Dundalk bombing. However, in the course of
his work, Mr. MacEntee had come across these other issues. It was
suggested that rather than producing another report, it was best to
structure the report to include all these issues. This has resulted in a
change to the layout of the report. This created some delay in producing
the report but most of the delay was caused by the issue of the
redaction of names. I understand not all the names have been redacted.
Fifteen names remain in the report and this took some consideration.
I promised the committee rather than the House that I would publish
the report so that it could be included in the September work programme
of the committee. It will be published immediately so that the committee
will be able to have that hearing. This will be the final report of this
committee. I thank the committee for faithfully dealing with all the
reports through its hearings. The committee hearings have given the
families an opportunity to hear these issues being debated and brought
to as near a conclusion as it is possible for us to achieve. Many of
these issues are more than 30 years old. This House has done its best to
have them investigated and to gather as much data as possible in order
to bring the issues into the public domain. I do not know what more we
can do with regard to these issues.
The Deputy asked a question about the Barron report.
Mr. Rabbitte: I
asked in particular whether the report was likely to come into the
public domain before the House formally rises.
The Taoiseach: I
promised the committee that I would try to move it directly to the
committee. It has been cleared by the Cabinet this morning and the
procedure is that it will be sent directly to the committee.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: In
what format will the MacEntee report be published? It is markedly
different from the Barron process. Will it be referred to the Oireachtas
committee in the same way? What vehicle will be utilised for its
delivery and to enable public scrutiny? Will the Taoiseach inform the
House when he expects the report to be published?
The Taoiseach indicated in his response to Deputy Rabbitte regarding
the Barron report into the bombing of Dundalk in December 1975 in which
two civilians, Hugh Waters and Jack Rooney, were killed, that this
report will now be presented to the Oireachtas committee for its
attention. While the Dáil is going into recess this week and the
committees process continues during the course of this month, does the
committee intend addressing the report substantively over the period
before the committee process concludes this month? Will the Taoiseach
give the House some indication as to when the detail of that report will
enter into the public arena? That will clearly not happen as a result of
it going to committee in the first instance. When will it complete the
process of working through the report, as has been done with previous
Has the Taoiseach followed up in any way on the unanimous decision of
this House to call on the British Government for a full public inquiry
into the murder of Mr. Pat Finucane? Has the matter been communicated to
the British Prime Minister?
An Ceann Comhairle: The
issue does not arise on this question.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Has
the Taoiseach done so? Would the Taoiseach propose any further action in
order to give effect to that decision?
An Ceann Comhairle: I
would prefer if the Deputy dealt with the question. A number of Deputies
The Taoiseach: There
was some criticism that I took all these inquiries together, so I took a
full session on the Finucane case here two weeks ago. I will not say
anything further on the matter today. There is nothing new to add.
On the independent commissions of inquiry, first we went through the
reports under the late Mr. Justice Hamilton and then Mr. Justice Barron.
I am very grateful for their work in bringing justice to the victims of
several of these horrific atrocities. As has been stated by Deputy
Rabbitte, we have referred three reports to the Oireachtas committee,
which has in turn done a very commendable job in hearing evidence, not
least from the bereaved and families. It has reported promptly with
clear recommendations, and that has been very helpful.
We will refer the fourth and final report into the Dundalk bombing of
1975 to the committee very shortly. I mentioned related matters, such as
attacks on the Miami Showband; the Rock Bar, Keady; Donnelly’s Bar,
Silverbridge; the Reavey and O’Dowd families; John Farmer and Colm
McCartney; and at Ballinrath bridge in County Kildare. It is a matter
for the committee, but the intention of the committee is to work on
these in September, to the best of my knowledge. It is a matter solely
for the committee.
We have acted on the recommendations of the Oireachtas committee on
matters that are entirely within the remit of the Government or public
bodies within the State. One of those is the commission of investigation
into the 1974 bombings under Mr. Paddy MacEntee. When the work is
complete we will address the recommendations from the second and third
reports relating to the 1972 and 1973 bombings and the Ludlow murder.
Appropriate action may be taken by Ministers and the Garda, and the
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform may need to recognise and
address shortcomings identified in any reports. On some very important
issues, the co-operation of the British authorities is essential. The
committee has recognised that, and the Government has been issued all
appropriate means in its efforts to ensure co-operation. I have raised
the matter with Prime Minister Blair and the Northern Ireland Secretary
on many occasions. All of this has led to Mr. MacEntee’s ongoing work
and his requirements for extensions.
With regard to Deputy Ó Caoláin’s question on timing, it is my
intention to publish the report as soon as possible after I receive it.
Under legislation I am required by law to consider certain issues prior
to publication. These involve requesting legal advice from the Attorney
General and submitting the report to the Cabinet prior to publication.
The timescale involved between the receipt of the report and publication
is impossible to estimate in advance. I wish to publish the report as
quickly as possible.
Mr. Sargent: I
am reluctant to ask questions about the reasoning behind the extension
of the MacEntee commission except to state that the expectations are
high for the publication by the end of July.
The Taoiseach has stated that the Barron report has been seen by
different Departments and is now, following Cabinet discussion, going to
committee. Is this the route the Taoiseach expects the MacEntee report
to take? Does he envisage that by the end of July, the report will be
parked or brought to committee? What is the process by which the
Taoiseach would like to see the information released?
Has the Taoiseach any estimate to date of the legal costs involved in
the Barron and MacEntee inquiries?
The Taoiseach: I
do not have the details of the reports, from the Hamilton report right
through to the Barron reports. I gave the figures quite recently. I will
make them available again to Deputy Sargent as we come to the end of the
process for the period.
To date, the costs of the MacEntee commission are €1.27 million.
That breaks down as €786,000 on legal costs, €175,000 on the costs
of support staff and the balance - €309,000 - on the costs of set-up,
administration of the offices and the workings of the commission. These
are still low costs in terms an inquiry and it is almost at its end.
The procedure is not the same as that of the other reports where
there was consultation with all the Departments. Under the inquiries
legislation, I am to consult the Attorney General and to bring the
report to Cabinet. It is not the same kind of investigation as the other
one and there should not be a delay. I would hope to get it quickly.
This would be the end of the fourth report of the Hamilton-Barron
session, which has gone on for a considerable number of years and which
deals with and ends all those issues in our jurisdiction. The MacEntee
report really ends all that we set out to do on the 1974 issues.
Bringing that report to the committee should allow the committee finish
its work this year.
The investigations into the other areas which we had agreed under
Weston Park have already commenced, although not in open session. The
work is going ahead on Judge Smithwick’s report into the Breen and
We will have effectively brought to an end all our work from this
House and then the remaining issues from Weston Park go in to the formal
issues outside of the House. That would finish our engagement in the
Mr. Kenny: The
Taoiseach has dealt comprehensively with the MacEntee commission. When
will the Barron report be published? It was expected this week.
The Taoiseach: I
have received no formal request for another extension but it is the view
of my officials dealing with this area that I am likely to receive one,
although not for long and merely to complete the work of the report. As
I understand it, Mr. MacEntee SC wants to end, before his holidays, this
task that he kindly undertook. If I do not get it by the end of July, I
expect that we should get it some time in August.