Dáil Éireann - Volume 555 - 17 October, 2002

Written Answers. - Tribunals of Inquiry.

  144. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the representations he has received from a family (details supplied) in County Donegal regarding its con[1221] cerns about the inadequacy of the terms of reference of the Morris tribunal; if he will consider asking the Attorney General to discuss with Mr. Justice Morris whether or not he would be willing to agree to a change in the terms of reference along the lines sought; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18631/02]

  Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Representations have been received from the family concerned and also from legal representatives acting on their behalf and on behalf of others. A response to their principal concerns was issued by my Department in May and, in addition, I recently met with a member of the family when matters of concern, including the terms of reference, were discussed.

  As regards the terms of reference, it is my view that the terms of reference as adopted by the Houses of the Oireachtas are definite, as required by the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts, and comprehensive and are based on the terms of reference recommended by Mr Shane Murphy, S.C. They provide scope for the tribunal to investigate and make such findings and recommendations as it sees fit.

  It is, however, a matter for the tribunal to pursue its inquiries as it sees fit. If, for any reason, the tribunal believes that the existing terms of reference in some way constrain it from inquiring into a related definite matter of public importance, or from making related findings or recommendations, it is open to the tribunal to seek an extension of the terms of reference. In this regard I would refer the Deputy to the judgment of the chairman of the tribunal, the Honourable Mr. Justice Frederick Morris, of 22 July where he indicated that if arguments to extend the terms of reference, based on evidence, are made to the tribunal, it will consider the matter, bearing in mind its responsibilities under the Tribunals of Inquiry Acts. Any request from the tribunal for alteration of the terms of reference would be dealt with in accordance with the terms of the Acts.