Dáil Éireann - Volume 447 - 24 January, 1995

Written Answers. - Sinking of the Orchidée.

46. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in relation to the sinking of the Orchidée on 22 September, 1992, which resulted in the loss [1332] of two lives, if his attention has been drawn to the delays by the French authorities in investigating the matter; his views on the need for diplomatic representations to the French Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1307/95]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): The Deputy will recall my reply to him on 15 November 1994, and the adjournment debate of 26 October 1994, in which the Minister for Environmental Protection set out the steps taken by the Department of the Marine and the Department of Foreign Affairs to bring the investigation into the sinking of the Orchidée to a conclusion.

The Embassy is in frequent contact with the French authorities in this matter. I said in my reply on 15 November that we had been informed that the French investigator was in the process of finalising his report.

The matter is within the scope of judicial authorities in France and as such is independent of the Government. Nevertheless, we have regularly made our concerns about a speedy resolution of this matter known to the French authorities. The Minister for the Marine had direct contacts last February with his opposite number in France. Our officials maintain regular contact with the French authorities.

In recent days, the Embassy in Paris has again approached the French Foreign Ministry to recall that, on 26 October, we forwarded information compiled by the Irish inspector, from the sole surviving witness, and to inquire again as to when we can expect the results of the French investigation.

I am aware that the delays in this matter are a cause of great concern to the families which have already suffered so much through the loss of their loved ones. Although the workings of the legal processes in France are independent of Government, I will nevertheless continue to ensure that all possible efforts are made to move matters along.