Smithwick Tribunal: “It is understood the tribunal chairman is concerned about the deadline”

According to the Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, speaking to the BBC on Thursday – about the Irish Government setting the Smithwick Tribunal a ‘deadline’ of 30 November for its final report.

[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. [added emphasis]

But, according to a BBC report today, the chairman of the tribunal has written to the Irish Government expressing “concern at the inquiry’s remit”.

It is understood the tribunal chairman is concerned about the deadline.

The solicitor for Chief Superintendent Breen’s family said the concerns must be taken seriously.

“I think it would be enormously discourteous for the Department of Justice, for the minister responsible for that department, and for the wider cabinet in fact, to ignore concerns expressed by Judge (Peter) Smithwick,” he said.

And the Belfast Telegraph today reports

[Taoiseach Enda] Kenny suggested the deadlines were not cast in stone.

I want the House to be absolutely clear that there is no intention of any interference in any way with the Smithwick Inquiry in respect of the work it has to do,” he said. [added emphasis]

He added: “If for some reason the Smithwick inquiry is unable to conclude its hearings or conclude its business by the time requested by Government, then obviously the Government will consider that.”

We should find out Judge Peter Smithwick’s thoughts on the matter at the tribunal’s next public sitting on June 7.