Smithwick granted extension
THE GOVERNMENT has approved an extension of time for the Smithwick Tribunal.
The extension until October was sought by tribunal chairman Judge Peter Smithwick last week. The move is expected to be sanctioned by both houses of the Oireachtas today.
The tribunal is inquiring into allegations of Garda or State collusion in the IRA ambush of two senior RUC officers, Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan, who were killed near a Border crossing in 1989.
Chaired by former District Court president Judge Peter Smithwick, the tribunal was established in 2005. It began public hearings last June and was initially due to issue its final report last November.
The tribunal was granted an initial six-month extension to its deadline by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in October 2011.
A key factor in the tribunal’s requirement for additional time is the number of sources of information who have come forward in recent months, particularly from Northern Ireland. These included some retired security service personnel who had previously indicated they would not be able to testify.
The Smithwick Tribunal has operated its hearings under strict security, with armed gardaí present. A video link to a secure, unnamed location in Belfast is also available for the use of potential witnesses who would prefer not to travel.
The tribunal is nearing its 100th day of public hearings and is expected to complete public sessions within weeks. The final report will then be written and submitted to the clerk of the Dáil.