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Question

23. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she has raised issues or concerns regarding Irish sovereignty in the context of foreign agents, with particular reference to British operatives involved in the incidents which have led to the Pitchford inquiry in the UK, with her counterpart; if so, the details of that discussion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8757/17]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The British Government established the UK's Undercover Policing Inquiry in 2015 in order to investigate and to report on the undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968. It is chaired by Lord Justice Christopher Pitchford.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the establishment of the Pitchford Inquiry and its terms of reference were and are matters solely for the British Government in accordance with UK law. It is established under the UK Inquiries Act 2005 which does not provide powers for extraterritorial inquiry.
It is my understanding that representations seeking the extension of the inquiry's terms of reference outside England and Wales were made previously by the authorities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Germany, and that the UK Home Secretary having considered those representations decided that the terms of reference of the inquiry would not be so amended. Although in this context the question of my seeking the extension of a UK inquiry does not arise, as I have indicated to the House on several occasions, should anything emerge from the findings of the Pitchford Inquiry that would be relevant to policing in this jurisdiction I will consider it fully and take any action that may be required.
My colleague, Minister Flanagan, met recently with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and as part of their wider discussions on issues of mutual interest he raised with him concerns that have been expressed previously in this House on matters relating to the Pitchford Inquiry. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland agreed to convey those concerns to the Home Secretary, who is the minister in the UK Government with responsibility for the inquiry.
Allegations regarding an undercover police officer in this jurisdiction were first made public in 2011. A report from the Garda Commissioner at that time noted that no evidence of criminal activity by that person had been established. That said, if any evidence of any criminal wrongdoing is available it should be brought to the Garda Authorities. In the light of developments since these matters first came to light I have requested a fresh report from the Garda Commissioner on any issues arising and the Garda Authorities are in ongoing contact with their counterparts in London in this regard. I will fully consider this report when it is available.