The Government today approved the proposal of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., to put motions to the Houses of the Oireachtas to amend the terms of reference of the Smithwick Tribunal of Inquiry, in line with the request from the Tribunal Chairman conveyed to the Clerk of Dáil Éireann on 5 October 2011. This will require the Tribunal to present a further interim report by 9th March 2012 and to conclude its inquiries and present its final report by 31st May 2012.

The Minister said: "In considering this matter the Government was cognisant of the need to facilitate the Tribunal in fulfilling its mandate as fully and expeditiously as possible. I welcome the progress which the Tribunal has been making since public hearings began in June 2011. This proposal is in keeping with the clear commitment which I was happy to give to the Dáil and Seanad when the Tribunal’s terms of reference were amended earlier this year."

The Government will propose appropriate motions in both Houses of the Oireachtas in due course.

18 October 2011

Note to Editors

The Smithwick Tribunal of Inquiry was established in 2005 to inquire into suggestions of collusion by Gardaí or other state employees in the murders of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert Buchanan by the Provisional IRA near Jonesborough, Co. Armagh in 1989.

The Tribunal conducted its inquiries in private from early-2006 and began its public hearings in June 2011. These hearings are ongoing. The Tribunal Chairman now anticipates that they will continue until December of this year.

The amendment by the Oireachtas of the Tribunal’s terms of reference in June 2011 required it to submit an interim report by 30 June 2011 and to complete its inquiries by 30 November 2011. This was consistent with the timeframe then indicated to the Minister by the Tribunal. It was made clear at that time that if the Tribunal required additional time the matter could be considered by the Oireachtas.