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Question

27. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if the issue of British undercover agents operating here was raised with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8605/17]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charlie Flanagan, met recently with his counterpart the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire MP, 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 UK's Undercover Policing Inquiry. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland agreed to convey those concerns to the Home Secretary.
The British Government established the 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 extended. 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 previously, 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.