88. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the section of each report relative to each case will be released to the families and complainants concerned regarding the decisions relative to each of the 315 cases under the independent review mechanism which were returned stating no further action was required; if the reasons and rationale by which this recommendation of no further action was reached will be provided to the families and complainants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5561/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy may wish to note that the number of cases of the independent review mechanism in which counsel recommended that no further action be taken was in fact 249 out of 320 cases. As regards the notification to the complainants of the reasons for such a recommendation, this has already taken place. The majority of such notifications issued during the latter half of 2015, with the final notification issuing in July 2016.
In communicating the outcome of the review to the 320 individuals who submitted matters to the independent review, it was important not only to set out the recommendation of counsel and the Minister's decision in each case, but to outline as far as possible the reasons for the recommendation, subject to any legal constraints that existed. The reports provided by counsel and containing their recommendations in each case constitute legal advice and they are, accordingly, subject to legal professional privilege. Issues of public policy arise here and I do not believe that it would be appropriate that I should waive that privilege. Also in many cases, the legal advice of counsel contained comments relating to third parties, and great care had to be taken in setting out the findings of counsel in a way which respected the rights of everyone concerned.
In light of that, retired High Court Judge Mr Justice Roderick Murphy was appointed to undertake the task of overseeing the preparation of the letters of notification. Mr Justice Murphy independently vouched for the fact that the summaries of conclusions and the reasoning behind them, as set out in the letters of notification, were a fair and accurate reflection of each recommendation which had been made to my predecessor. I believe that Mr Justice Murphy's involvement in the process provided additional reassurance to those whose cases were considered by the Panel as to the probity and independence of this entire process, from start to finish.