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Question

10. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the current status of Judge McCartan's review of the Stardust Relatives and Victims Committee's evidence; when this review is expected to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15531/17]

Answer

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Judge McCartan began his work on Monday, 27 March, and it is hoped that he can conclude his assessment process within the 90-day period. The Government agreed on 7 March to appoint Judge McCartan to assess any new and updated evidence uncovered by the Stardust Relatives and Victims Committee in order to recommend whether there should another commission of investigation into the Stardust tragedy of 1981. That will be conducted completely independently of Government. I want to thank Judge McCartan for being willing to do this.
The scope of the assessment process is outlined in the Dáil motion of 26 January, so the Deputy will be well aware of it. Judge McCartan will be assisted by a junior counsel. In addition, the Stardust Relatives and Victims Committee may obtain sanction from Judge McCartan to avail of appropriate representation, if necessary, in order to present its evidence to him. To facilitate the assessment process, office accommodation and meeting facilities have been obtained by the Department of Justice and Equality at Haddington Road, Dublin. An e-mail address has been provided to Judge McCartan and forwarded to the Stardust Relatives and Victims Committee for the purposes of facilitating contact between Judge McCartan and the committee.
Judge McCartan will have discretion to afford the committee whatever representation he believes is necessary in order for the committee to present its evidence to the assessment process. The relevant daily rates payable will be set by my Department and costs will be borne by the Exchequer. The requirement for representation will, most likely, be dependent on the nature of the evidence to be presented to Judge McCartan.
As I said, Judge McCartan began his work on Monday, 27 March. In parallel with the assessment process, my Department has met with the committee and its advisers on a number of occasions regarding historical fees that the committee claims are owed to it. The committee believes the Exchequer should be liable for payment of those fees and has threatened to refuse to engage with the proposed McCartan process if the historical fees issue is not resolved. I hope discussions will be ongoing on this issue and it is my Department’s intention that these discussions remain separate from the proposed McCartan process.