Judge Smithwick: “I therefore anticipate that I will be able to submit my final report by the end of May 2012.”

Having expressed his concern at the 30 November ‘deadline’ initially imposed by the Irish Government, Judge Peter Smithwick has now formally requested a 6 month extension for the tribunal he chairs.  From the Irish Times report

The tribunal, now six years in existence, began its public hearings only in June this year. Judge Smithwick stated in his letter that since the public hearings had begun, a number of people previously unknown to the tribunal had come forward with potentially important information, which needed to be investigated.

One important line of inquiry had emerged and public evidence had also raised new matters that required further investigation.

The chairman said he now forecast public hearings would conclude at the end of December at the latest. He would also need to allow a period of 28 days after that for parties to file written submissions.

His writing of the report would be greatly speeded up with the support of a junior counsel familiar with the case. “I estimate that it will take approximately three months to write my report,” he said, adding that printing, editing and proof-reading would take a further month.

“I therefore anticipate that I will be able to submit my final report by the end of May 2012.”

Whether that “further investigation” includes questioning Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA – about the Provisional IRA ambushing and killing of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in 1989 that he says he has “no direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding” – is unclear.