DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Mr. Shatter)

DÁIL QUESTIONS

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 – Dept Details

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.

 


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.

 


Excerpt from Irish Prime Minister Makes the Rounds In Boston, by Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe, 17 Feb., 2012

Kenney declined to be drawn into the controversy involving the demand by police in Northern Ireland for the taped interviews of former members of the Irish Republican Army that were gathered as part of an oral history project at Boston College. He said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the case while it was still before the US District Court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

While they get along in general, Kenny and his British counterpart, Prime Minister David Cameron, have differed on the approach taken to investigating the 1989 murder of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane, one of several lingering cases of the Troubles in Northern Ireland that are in various stages of inquiry.

Kenny said he has not spoken to Cameron about the Boston College tapes or the impact disclosure of those tapes might have on the peace process that was nurtured by the Irish and British governments with active American government assistance.