Smithwick tribunal has cost €6.3m to date, Dáil told

 

THE FIVE-YEAR-LONG Smithwick tribunal has so far cost €6.3 million, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern told the Dáil.

He said the tribunal, under Mr Justice Peter Smithwick, was investigating suggestions members of the Garda, or other State employees, colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Robert Buchanan in March 1980.

Replying to Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan, he said the tribunal was still in its investigative phase and had not, save for a sitting in which the terms of reference were set out, held any public hearings. “I understand public hearings are expected to take place later this year,’’ he added.

Questioning if the tribunal was providing value for the taxpayer, Mr Flanagan asked when the Minister expected it would report to the Oireachtas. Mr Ahern said his officials had been in contact with Mr Justice Smithwick on developments in the investigation.

“It is fair to say that he is endeavouring to carry out much of the work outside of public session to obviate the necessity for long public hearings,’’ he added.

Ultimately, said Mr Ahern, they would not know whether the tribunal was value for money until it reported to the House.