The Government is fully committed to transparency and to establishing the full facts in relation to the matters being examined by the Disclosures Tribunal, including those concerning Sgt. Maurice McCabe. We established that Tribunal of Inquiry earlier this year and ensured that it was armed with extensive and comprehensive terms of reference. The Tribunal, with Mr Justice Peter Charleton acting as Sole Member, is going about its work and must be permitted to do so without ongoing attempts to undermine it or misrepresent its powers and terms of reference. I urge people to read the Tribunal’s terms of reference which are publicly available on its website, as are its transcripts (www.disclosurestribunal.ie)
The Tribunal’s terms of reference refer to contacts between members of An Garda Síochána and “any other State entities”. This clearly includes the Department of Justice and Equality. I am unclear as to why some Members of the Oireachtas are claiming that this is not the case.
It was solely a matter for the parties to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation to decide what legal approach to take to the work of the Commission, taking into account the legal advice available to them. In the circumstances, the Department of Justice and Equality would have had no role in determining the approach to be taken by the Garda Commissioner to the Commission in question. Accordingly, there was no question of the Department seeking to interfere in any way with, or to have any say in determining, that approach by the Garda Commissioner. And it should go without saying that it would have been entirely inappropriate for anyone to have sought to interfere in any way with the work of the Commission.
I believe that Members of the Oireachtas should be responsible in their public statements and I believe that as parliamentarians we should respect the operation of Tribunals of Inquiry. The Disclosures Tribunal was established by the Oireachtas . The Tribunal must be allowed to do its work.