78. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to an international letter of request received by his Department and acknowledged in August 2017 regarding providing items in an archive (details supplied) to the police ombudsman in Northern Ireland; the actions his Department has taken since then; and the steps he is taking to ensure that the archive and relevant Garda files are made available to the police ombudsman in a prompt manner [5565/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Criminal Justice (Mutual Legal Assistance) Act 2008 provides for Competent Authorities to seek and afford assistance in relation to matters which are the subject of criminal investigations and/or criminal proceedings. Such assistance is sought and provided on a confidential basis, as any public comment relating to a request for assistance may prejudice or impair the investigation giving rise to the making of a request.
That said, I can confirm for the Deputy that a request for Mutual Legal Assistance seeking Garda records in respect of the matter to which he refers was received and referred to An Garda Síochána. I am advised by the Garda Authorities that detailed work is currently being conducted in respect of the request and that An Garda Síochána is also liaising directly with the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in order to assist its investigations to the fullest extent in accordance with law.
As the Deputy will appreciate, dealing with the legacy of the troubles on this island is a complex and challenging task. The Government remains fully committed to the framework of measures in the Stormont House Agreement as a means to address the needs of the many victims and their families. The Government continues, with the British Government and the parties in Northern Ireland, to work to give effect to those measures.