94. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason there has been more than several dozen boxes of documentation provided to the Charleton tribunal by his Department and An Garda Síochána since November 2017; and the actions he is he taking over the perceived non-co-operation with the tribunal. [5413/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Let me be very clear from the start that I am not aware of and cannot comment on the volume of material that has been made available to the Disclosures Tribunal by An Garda Síochána. As the Deputy is aware, the Garda Síochána are independently represented before the Disclosures Tribunal and I have no function in that matter. It would be entirely inappropriate for me, therefore, to comment upon or interfere with the way with another party's interactions with the Tribunal.
With regard to documents provided to the Disclosures Tribunal by my Department since November 2017, orders were received by my Department in December 2017 and in January 2018. These orders were fully complied with and the relevant documents were forwarded to the Tribunal in December and January. For the benefit of the House I can say that these orders sought certain records, which were not voluminous, of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation and documents related to the work of the Independent Review Mechanism.
Following correspondence between my Department and the Tribunal in late 2017, the Department undertook an electronic trawl of its systems to locate any documents which might be deemed relevant to the Tribunal's terms of reference. The search also included paper-based files. In all more than 30 million documents were searched. Independent documentary counsel were engaged to review all documents identified for relevance to the terms of reference of the Tribunal. The results of this process, which amounted to less than a hundred documents, some of which had been previously furnished, were provided to the Tribunal on 19 January.
I can assure the Deputy that my Department has at all times sought to cooperate fully and constructively with the Tribunal and that any further orders to be made by the Tribunal will also be complied with in full. The Tribunal has been assured of my full and ongoing support in that regard.
I am sure that the Deputy will have noted that the Taoiseach has appointed Mr Michael Collins, Senior Counsel, to conduct an independent review of the response of my Department to requests for documents from the Tribunal. I have already welcomed this step and I can confirm that my Department is cooperating fully with this review.