The inquiry was established in 2005 to investigate if there was Garda collusion in the IRA murder of two senior RUC officers, Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Robert Buchanan, who were ambushed by the IRA near the Border at Jonesboro, Co Armagh, in 1989. They were returning to the North from a meeting with senior gardaí in Dundalk.
The tribunal began its investigative phase in early 2006 but since then has held only two brief public hearings. Judge Smithwick made an opening statement but the inquiry has not published any interim reports to date. Its first substantive public hearings on evidence is not due to begin until June 7th, only three weeks before it will be asked to produce its interim report. The Government also decided that the inquiry should produce its final report by November 30th. The cost of the tribunal to date has been €8 million.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Dara Calleary said he agreed with the Government imposing a deadline. “Tribunals in general have posed difficulties with costs and length of time and I agree with the Government drawing a line under them.” He said the only reservation he had was that the possibility of compromising the tribunal’s work if the interim report had to be published before the public hearings have concluded.
While the BBC report adds
[Irish Justice Minister Alan] Shatter said the November deadline was not set in stone.
“We’ve been informed by the tribunal chairman that he believes the tribunal will be in a position to do that, but should it emerge that there’s a difficulty in that regard, of course, we’ll revisit the matter,” he said.
“I think it is very important to the families of the two deceased members of the RUC, to everyone who is aware of the tragic background to what occurred, that clarity be brought to where matters now stand.”
Yet, according to the Irish Times report
The tribunal confirmed to The Irish Times yesterday that its chairman, former president of the District Court, Judge Peter Smithwick, has not received any communications from the Government.
“He intends to refer to the matter at the next public sittings on the 7th of June, 2011,” said a spokeswoman in a statement.