Dáil Questions

DÁIL QUESTIONS

- 10 Jul 2013
– 9 July 2013
– 25 Jun 2013
– 19 Feb 2013
– 27 Mar 2012
– 22 Feb 2012
– 07 Feb 2012
– 26 Jan 2012

10 July 2013
Dáil Éireann Debate: Written Answers

Northern Ireland Issues

Addressed to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mr. Gilmore) by Deputy Clare Daly for WRITTEN on Wednesday, 10th July, 2013; Transferred (from) Justice and Equality

596. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if in view of recent revelations by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that the Northern Ireland Historical Enquiries Team failed properly to investigate crimes committed by the British military, and in view of the fact that the HET and PSNI have relentlessly pursued confidential tapes held at Boston College to the exclusion of any other line of enquiry regarding offences committed in this State, he is prepared to assert jurisdiction over this matter.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): It is vitally important for the future of Northern Ireland that a stable and lasting peace be firmly established. As stated in the Good Friday Agreement, the tragedies of the past have left a deep and profoundly regrettable legacy of suffering. We must never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families.

In the context of the “Together: Building a United Community” initiative by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Assembly will shortly establish an All Party Working Group under an Independent Chair to consider and make recommendations on issues that cause community divisions, including Dealing with the Past.

The HET has an important role to play in ensuring that the families of all of the victims of violence in the past can pursue the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and it plays a significant part in the pursuit of justice. I am aware of the comprehensive Inspection Report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team. I believe it is essential that the HET operate to the highest standards of effectiveness and impartiality, so that the people of Northern Ireland – and in particular, the families of the victims whose cases are being reviewed – can have confidence in it. Consequently I welcome Chief Constable Baggott’s acceptance of the Inspection Report’s Recommendations and his commitment to work with the Policing Board on ensuring their delivery.

I am glad to inform the Deputy that there is close and ongoing co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the PSNI on all aspects of policing. The two police forces have in place a joint Cross Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island. The Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI who have responsibility for operational policing co-operation have repeatedly emphasised that the close and high quality co-operation between their forces has been instrumental in preventing attacks, combating criminality and saving lives.


9 July 2013
Dáil Éireann Debate: Written Answers

Data Protection

Addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter) by Deputy Clare Daly for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013.

416. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to any instances in which the American National Security Agency and-or the British use of National Security Agency records has compromised any Irish citizens and-or their lawyers; if he will raise the issuance of the second subpoena of the Boston College oral history archives, as a result of electronic eavesdropping on Irish citizens and their lawyers, with his counterparts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): As I have indicated to the House previously I, of course, fully understand the concerns which have arisen in the wake of recent media reports about the PRISM programme. These concerns mainly centre on data privacy rights not being adequately respected. I raised these concerns with the US Attorney General Eric Holder at my recent meetings with him in Dublin. At these meetings, the US Attorney General provided clarity on a number of issues, in particular with regard to the nature of the information collected and processed, i.e. phone numbers, duration of calls etc – but not the content of calls. He also advised that the data was collected under judicial authority and only where there was a reasonable suspicion of serious crime, such as terrorism or cybersecurity/cybercrime.

We cannot ignore the very important fact that there is a recognised need to protect our citizens from terrorist threats and dealing with that does require access to certain data. In doing so, however, it is necessary to ensure that the information used is properly obtained and subject to appropriate safeguards. The importance of protecting individual rights to privacy and ensuring respect for individual human rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights was emphasised to the US side, as was the crucial need to ensure that any security surveillance undertaken is balanced and proportionate. The US authorities have indicated that their practices are proportionate to the threat they are trying to deal with.

In this country we have data protection legislation to protect individuals against unwarranted invasion into their privacy. Access to telephone call content is governed by the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act 1993 and may only take place under Ministerial warrant. Access to retained telecommunications data in this jurisdiction is governed by the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011. Under the Act access may only be granted following a request to the particular mobile phone company or internet provider in connection with the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of a serious offence, the safeguarding of the security of the State or the saving of human life.

The operation of both Acts this is subject to judicial oversight and there is also a complaints procedure which individuals can avail of if there is a concern that the Acts have been breached in relation to their calls or their data. There are also procedures in place under Mutual Assistance legislation to cover requests to and from other countries for this type of information. I am not aware of any instances of the kind referred to by the Deputy. My Department has no function in relation to the Boston College oral history archive.

Boston College Case

Addressed to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mr. Gilmore) by Deputy Clare Daly for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 9th July, 2013.

133. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will, on the back of the revelations of the extensive spying by the American National Security Agency, which has also been revealed to be used by the British GCHQ, raise the issue of the second Boston College subpoena with his counterparts in the United States and United Kingdom; if his attention has been drawn to any instances, including any relating to the Boston College subpoena case, where Irish citizens and/or their legal representatives have been compromised.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): The allegations of surveillance of EU premises, if true, are of concern to all EU Member States, including Ireland. The EU’s External Action Service has sought clarification of the situation in both Washington and Brussels. High Representative Ashton has also spoken directly about this matter to Secretary of State Kerry and at a press conference, President Obama emphasised the importance of the US relationship with Europe and gave a firm undertaking to examine these allegations and to provide “all the information that our allies want”. I welcome this clear statement and undertaking.

While Ireland is not one of the Member States identified in the media reports to date, the Government has already expressed its concerns to the US Embassy in Dublin at a senior official level and looks forward to clarification being provided in response to the EU’s request. Any further steps will be considered in light of the clarification received. Data protection issues are the primary responsibility of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, and he has previously told the House of his discussions with the US Attorney General Eric Holder during the EU-US Ministerial meeting and in a bilateral meeting on the issue. It was agreed to set up a working group between the EU side and the US security services to continue dialogue in relation to this matter.


25 June 2013
Dáil Éireann Debate: Written Answers

Nos. 454

Official Engagements

Addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter) by the Leader of the Opposition, Micheál Martin for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 25th June, 2013.

454. Deputy Micheál Martin: asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he raised the Boston College Belfast Oral History archive issue with US Attorney General Eric Holder during their meetings last week; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I met with the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, in Dublin on 13 and 14 June in the context of the EU–US JHA ministerial meeting. The issue of the Boston College oral history project did not arise in our discussions.

The topics we discussed over the course of our meetings included security and surveillance issues, enhancing Irish-US cooperation in combating serious crime and Ireland’s EU Presidency.

I also took the opportunity to brief Attorney General Holder on Ireland’s EU Presidency in the justice and home affairs area. Many of the Irish Presidency’s priorities in the JHA area reflected the key issues facing Ireland, Europe and the United States, including economic recovery, growth and job creation. I updated Mr. Holder on the EU’s data protection proposals, on which substantial progress has been made under my Chairmanship of the Council of JHA ministers. Our meetings served to underline the shared concerns of Ireland, the EU and the US in tackling issues of international crime, particularly serious and organised crime, and we agreed to continue to further enhance our co-operation in this regard.

Nos. 150

Addressed to the Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach (Enda Kenny) by the Leader of the Opposition, Micheál Martin for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 25th June, 2013.

Official Engagements

150. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he raised the Boston College Belfast Oral History archive issue with President Obama during their meetings in Fermanagh at the G8 summit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Taoiseach: I did not have any discussion regarding the Boston College History Papers with President Obama during my attendance at the G8 events in Fermanagh.


19 Feb 2013

Addressed to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore) by the Leader of the Opposition, Micheál Martin for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 19th February, 2013.

Boston College Archives
Written Answers on 19 Feb 2013

Question 224. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has received any representations in relation to the Boston College papers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Boston College has a long history of positive support for, and engagement in, the field of Irish Studies. It has played an important role in recording the history of Northern Ireland and the peace process which will be of ongoing value to historians and the study of conflict resolution. In March 2011 the British Government, acting on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, initiated proceedings with the US Department of Justice under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries for the release of archived interviews held in Boston College. The archives are part of the Belfast Project, an oral history of Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries compiled by Mr McIntyre and Mr Moloney and deposited in the Burns Library at the College . Some of those whose testimony is included in the project have since died, including Dolores Price who passed away in recent months.

Legal challenges were launched by Boston College, and separately by Mr MacIntyre and Mr Moloney, to prevent the release of the material. In December 2011, these challenges were dismissed by US District Court Judge William Young. Further legal efforts by Mr MacIntyre and Mr Moloney were made but on 6 July, the US Federal Court of Appeal turned down their appeal.

The court ruling means that the archived material must be handed over by Boston College to the US authorities for onward transmission to their British counterparts. However Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre are considering a motion for a re-hearing of the case. They also continue to keep their legal options open in the Belfast Courts.

Officials of my Department will continue to closely monitor any further developments.


Addressed to the Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach (Enda Kenny) by the Leader of the Opposition, Micheál Martin for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 27th March, 2012.

Northern Ireland Issues
Written Answers on 27 Mar 2012

Question 78: To ask the Taoiseach his plans to bring up the ongoing issue of the sensitive materials deposited in Boston College, that have been ordered by a US District Court to be handed over to the PSNI for criminal investigations, with President Obama during the annual St.Patrick’s Day visit to the USA; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Micheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)

Question 79: To ask the Taoiseach if he has previously brought up the ongoing issue of the sensitive materials deposited in Boston College, that have been ordered by a US District Court to be handed over to the PSNI for criminal investigations, with the US Department of State or in correspondence with US authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Micheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)

REPLY from Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 79 together.

In respect of the Deputy’s two questions on this matter, I am aware that there are ongoing legal proceedings under way in the United States regarding the oral history archive related to the Troubles held by Boston College. An appeal has been lodged by private individuals in relation to this and as this matter is due to be considered by the courts in early April, it would not be appropriate to comment on this matter at this stage.
- Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)


Addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter) by Deputy Clare Daly for WRITTEN on Wednesday, 22nd February, 2012.

Question 209: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his views regarding the use of the EU-US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty by the PSNI to subpoena, through the US Department of Justice, tape record of interviews given in confidence to researchers by Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries who participated in the armed conflict in the North, noting that the Decommissioning Papers are lodged in the same archive at Boston College; and if he will make representations to the US Government requesting that these tapes should not be released in the interests of guaranteeing confidentiality to participants in important historical research, protecting the free flow of information and ensuring the safety of the researchers.
- Clare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)

Question 210: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has been consulted by his counterpart in Northern Ireland regarding the subject matter in the Boston College – Oral History Belfast Project.
- Clare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)

Question 211: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if any request has been made to him by the PSNI for the arrest of anyone within the State arising from the subject matter contained in the Boston College tapes – Oral History Belfast Project.
- Clare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)

REPLY from Alan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions 169 to 174, inclusive, of 26 January 2012, in which I have set out the position in relation to the papers of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning some of which have been lodged by the Commission at Boston College. I have no function in relation to the entirely separate issue of the Oral History Belfast Project.

As for the question of any request to arrest any individuals within this jurisdiction in relation to offences committed in another jurisdiction, there are well-established procedures under the European Arrest Warrant for dealing with any such requests. Ultimately that would be a matter for the Courts.
- Alan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

*

Question No. 61.  For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 22nd February, 2012.

Parliamentary Question – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Northern Ireland Issues

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade noting the statements of prominent Irish-American individuals and groups re the Boston College tapes, if the Irish Government will raise this matter with the US Attorney General.
- Clare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)

REPLY

As the issue of the Boston College oral archive is currently the subject of ongoing legal proceedings before the courts in the United States, it would be inappropriate for the Government to comment on this matter at present.
- Eamon Gilmore (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Dún Laoghaire, Labour)


DÁIL QUESTIONS

Addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter) by Micheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail) for WRITTEN on 7 Feb., 2012.

Question 373: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if it was his decision to donate documents from the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to Boston College, USA; his views on this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Micheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)

REPLY from Alan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 169 to 174, inclusive, of 26 January 2012. The position is as set out in that reply.
- Alan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)


DÁIL QUESTIONS

Addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter) by Deputy Dara Calleary for WRITTEN on 26th Jan., 2012.

Question 168: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide the background on the decision to donate the papers relating to the work of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to Boston College if a decision was taken on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

Question 169: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will state if he had any contact with any archival institution on the island of Ireland regarding the papers relating to the work of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning prior to the decision to donate these papers to Boston College and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

Question 170: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the papers relating to the work of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning were not donated to any archival institution on the island of Ireland and if there are plans in the future to allow the papers to return to Ireland.
- Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

Question 171: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he sought the views of the Department of Education and Skills regarding the decision to donate the papers relating to the work of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to Boston College and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

Question 172: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his views that the legal proceedings in the United States regarding the Boston College archives will not impact on the decommissioning documentation on the conflict in Northern Ireland recently given to the college’s archives; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

Question 173: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to any implications for the papers relating to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning arising from recent legal cases in the United States; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

Question 174: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the contacts he has had with Boston College regarding the papers relating to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)

REPLY from Alan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 to 174, inclusive, together.

The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was jointly established following an agreement of August 1997 between the Irish and British Governments to supervise the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons and explosive materials. The Commission was dissolved by Orders made by both Governments on 30 March 2011. Between those dates the Commission successfully decommissioned virtually all the weapons and explosive materials which had been in the hands of paramilitary groups in this island.

There is no doubting that the Commission’s work was central to the peace process and I am sure the House will join me in recording our appreciation of that work. As an independent body the Commission decided the arrangements for the holding of its archive independently. I am advised that the Commission did consult with both Governments and the issue of lodging the archive in Boston College had been pursued since July 2010. The Commission’s final report, submitted to the Government on 28 March 2011, detailed the arrangements which it had made for the storage of its documentation, including the most sensitive documentation relating to the inventory of decommissioned material. That sensitive material is not in the archive in Boston College. The remaining material which is of a more general nature was deposited with Boston College, subject to conditions including an embargo on their disclosure for a period of 30 years.

To suggest that disposition of the archive was a matter within the power of the Irish Government is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. As the Commission was a body jointly established by the Irish and British Governments the holding of the archive by the one or the other jurisdiction would not have been possible, given the independent nature of the Commission and the nature of the archive. Accordingly, I understand the question of consultation of the kind referred to by the Deputy did not arise though, of course, this would have been a matter for the administration in office when this matter was being resolved.

The Commission itself made the arrangements to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of its archive in the public interest and in the interests of the peace process. The Deputy will understand that consultations on the final disposition of the Commission’s archive were completed before I became Minister. Indeed the first I learned of the arrangements, which the Commission had put in place, was when the Commission detailed them in its final Report of 28 March 2011. I would emphasise that I have no issue with the approach which the Commission took to dealing with its archive, having consulted the then Governments.

I am, of course, aware of legal proceedings in the United States to which the Deputy refers concerning entirely separate documentation held in Boston College. I am advised that the material which the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning deposited with Boston College is of a general nature and does not contain sensitive information in relation to individuals. Furthermore, the order dissolving the Commission contains a number of provisions including one which declares the archives to be inviolable until 2041.

In addition the equivalent UK order also confers this inviolability and accords them the status of diplomatic documentation under the Vienna Convention and acknowledges that the documentation can only be accessed prior to 2041 with the agreement of the Irish Government. The fact that the documentation has been given diplomatic status under the Convention means that it cannot be properly accessed by any third party. They are, therefore, in an entirely different category to the material which is the subject of the legal proceedings referred to. There are no grounds for believing that the Commission’s material could be subject to requests for disclosure of the kind which arise in the case referred to by the Deputy. In the circumstances, the question of my contacting Boston College in the light of those completely separate proceedings does not arise.

Officials in my Department and in the Northern Ireland Office have been monitoring developments and will remain in contact about the matter. However, I have no reason to believe that there are grounds for concern about the arrangements made by the Commission arising from the entirely separate case referred to by the Deputy.