Scappaticci granted legal representation at Smithwick Tribunal

The Smithwick Tribunal may have opened in 2006, but the public hearings are only to begin in June this year.  The tribunal’s terms of reference are

Tribunal of Inquiry  into suggestions that members of An Garda Síochána or other employees of  the State colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert Buchanan on the 20th March, 1989.

And the Tribunal’s rules of procedure adds a interpretation of those terms

9.         The Tribunal’s Terms of Reference are to enquire into suggestions that members of the Garda Síochána or other employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Buchanan on the 20th March 1989. The Sole member, in his opening statement delivered on the 3rd March 2006, gave an interpretation of “collusion” in the following terms;-

“While (collusion) generally means the commission of an act, I am also of the view that it should be considered in terms of an omission or failure to act. In the active sense, collusion has amongst its meanings to conspire, connive or collaborate. In addition I intend to examine whether anybody deliberately ignored a matter, or turned a blind eye to it, or to have pretended ignorance or unawareness of something one ought morally, legally or officially oppose.”

10.       If it considers it necessary, the Tribunal will provide, at a public sitting, any further interpretation of the Terms of Reference before it starts to hear oral evidence and thereafter as the need may arise having regard to evidence the Tribunal has received. In the event that the Tribunal provides any further interpretation of its Terms of Reference, appropriate time will be afforded to the parties to consider such further interpretation.

And whether or not Freddie Scappaticci is “getting to that time of life when he wants to talk about his role in the conflict”, he has been granted legal representation at the tribunal.  As the Irish Times reports

Mr Scappaticci had been refused legal representation when the tribunal last sat in 2006 on the grounds he was not at that time relevant to the tribunal’s inquiries and no evidence had been given against him.

However, Judge Smithwick yesterday said the situation had since altered and Mr Scappaticci had “become a person at risk of having his good name and personal property jeopardised” by evidence that may be given during the tribunal.

Judge Smithwick granted the application of Michael Flanagan Solicitors for legal representation for Mr Scappaticci, but limited to the days when he may be mentioned in evidence.

Legal representatives of Margaret Keeley, former wife of former British agent Peter Keeley, who uses the name “Kevin Fulton”, sought permission to have a “watching brief” at the tribunal.

Judge Smithwick said Ms Keeley’s legal team could attend any public session, but they would not be entitled to tribunal documentation. Her former husband has already been given full legal representation at an earlier hearing.

An application was also granted yesterday for legal representation for former Garda sergeant Finbarr Hickey, who was convicted in 2001 of signing false passport application forms for members of the Provisional IRA.

A RTÉ report adds

In a statement today issued through their solicitor, the Breen family acknowledged the ‘significant efforts’ being made by the tribunal to investigate the murders and said the commencement of public hearings is ‘a significant and positive development’.

However, the family go on to say that it remains to be seen if the Irish and UK authorities will release all necessary information, including sensitive records and transcripts to the tribunal.

‘And indeed whether the garda, RUC, Army and other security personnel come forward with the evidence which they have apparently released from time-to-time in an anonymous fashion,’ the statement adds.