1434. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice if the letter mentioned in an internal Department email dated 30 October 2019 relating to a Topical Issue submitted by the Deputy regarding the investigation into the death of a person (details supplied) was issued; if the information will now be given; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19422/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I understand that the letter referred to did not issue. The contents of it related to the position at that time and events were overtaken as a Topical Issue debate tabled by the Deputy was taken on 7 November 2019.
As the Deputy will be aware, a retired Judge, Gerard Haughton, is currently conducting the scoping exercise into the tragic circumstances surrounding Shane's death.
Judge Haughton furnished an interim report to the then Minister for Justice in November 2019. In his interim report, the Judge stated that he would not restrict or limit Shane's family in their submissions to him or the nature and extent of the documentation they wished to furnish to him in his scoping exercise.
I can confirm that my Department expects to receive the final report from the Judge shortly.
The Judge is of course completely independent in his work, and I can neither intervene in or influence the outcome of the scoping exercise. My Department continues to provide all necessary assistance to the Judge to enable him to complete his work. The previous extensions requested by the Judge have, as the Judge has stated to the family, been necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Judge's desire to be as comprehensive as possible in conducting the scoping exercise.
While I genuinely regret that this process has taken longer than any of us would like, I am also aware that the Judge is doing all that he can to ensure that the concerns which the family have raised with him during the process are followed through to the greatest extent possible, and this requires additional time. Judge Haughton has been in contact with the O’Farrell family throughout his scoping exercise.
I am awaiting Judge Haughton’s final report on the outcome of his scoping exercise. The purpose of this exercise is to advise as to whether any further investigation or inquiry beyond those already carried out is necessary and if so the form of such investigation or inquiry and its terms of reference.