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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Extradition Case.

Wednesday, 12 June 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 466 No. 7

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 4. Mr. D. Ahern Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern  asked the Taoiseach Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton  the contacts, if any, there have been between himself and the British Prime Minister or between his officials and British officials in the aftermath of the unsuccessful Anthony Duncan extradition case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11787/96]

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton The only contact between the Prime Minister's office and mine was the following: on Saturday, 13 April following the conclusion of the District Court proceedings, an official of the Prime Minister's office was in telephone contact with an official of my office to ensure that the appropriate arrangements were in place on the Irish side in relation to the sending of a further warrant. The official from my office was able, following consultation with the office of the Attorney General, to confirm to the Prime Minister's office that the relevant law officers from both sides were already in contact about the matter and that the appropriate arrangements were in place.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern Was there discussion between Irish and British officials about the problem that arose in the court as [1819] to whether the detective superintendent from London physically brought over the warrant and placed it in the custody of the Garda Síochána?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton No, the discussion that took place was simply about the availability of officers to deal with the further warrant.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern During the last Question Time on this matter I asked the Taoiseach whether, to his knowledge or that of the Attorney General, the detective superintendent, on the occasion of the court case, was interviewed by representatives of the State as to whether he physically handed over the warrant to the Garda Síochána the night before the case. The Taoiseach indicated that he was not aware of what happened in that regard. Subsequently I put down a question to the Minister for Justice to which she replied that not only was there contact subsequent to the court case but on the date of the court case the detective superintendent was interviewed about his involvement in the transport of the warrant. In view of that information, does the Taoiseach accept that representatives of the State, that is, he and other members of the Government, were aware from a very early time that the fault lay not on the British side but on the Irish side?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton I already indicated my answer to that question in extensive replies to this House on two days. I said quite clearly that the Irish Government was not in a position to make any decision as to where the fault lay in this matter until it had received the report from the Garda Síochána authorities, which it did not receive until 21 May, and any suggestions to the contrary are not true.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern Does the Taoiseach not accept what the Minister for Justice has already confirmed — that the British superintendent was interviewed on [1820] the occasion of the court case and subsequently? On a related issue, in view of the way this case has been handled, given that under the amended extradition legislation the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor deliberate on the freedom of an Irish citizen, and given that the documents transmitted to the Attorney General and the Minister for Justice are merely photocopies of original documents, does the Taoiseach not accept that there is need for change in the procedure for handling these extradition cases?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton These are separate matters. The question relates solely to the contact between the British Prime Minister's office and my office and I have given the House full details of that. The wider questions the Deputy raises have to some degree been raised and dealt with on previous occasions. The other matters are appropriate to be the subject of further questions, which I invite him to submit.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell If on Saturday, 13 April there was consultation between the Office of the Attorney General in Ireland and the equivalent office in England about the delivery of a further warrant, does that not demonstrate that both those offices accepted that the original warrant was not available to them in either London or Dublin and hence had been destroyed?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton There was consultation between the Office of the Attorney General and that of his counterpart in Britain on the day in question. As I indicated at some length on previous occasions, this focused on the issue and acceptance of a further warrant. It was not possible, as I have explained on many occasions at great length in the House, to come to definitive conclusions at that time about where the fault lay as to the reason the original document was not available in the court on the day in question, as it ought to have been. However, conclusions were reached in the report [1821] presented to the Minister for Justice which she in turn presented to the House in answer to a Deputy on 21 May.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I do not want to go back over the questions I asked the last day as that would probably be out of order. Since the last Question Time on this issue, the Sunday Independent on 2 June outlined that a report carried out by Detective Superintendent Pat Murphy was begun on Saturday, 13 April, the date of the court case, and was presented to his superiors the following Monday, 15 April. The article further states categorically that the Garda informed the Department of Justice on that date that they accepted responsibility for the error. Does the Taoiseach still categorically deny this ever happened — that is, that the Garda acknowledged responsibility for that error to the Department of Justice on Monday 15 April? After all this time, when it has been proved beyond doubt that the Department did know on that date, is it not time for the Taoiseach to come clean and state that, although he may not have known, it was known? Anyone who checked would have found that on Monday 15 April the Garda had accepted there was an error, although they had not stated whether the document was shredded or lost or something else had happened to it. We are playing the game of “final report” because that is still not available — the Garda still believe the warrant may be found in a file or behind a cabinet. The reality is that the Government knew on 15 April that it was a Garda error but the Taoiseach and the rest of the Cabinet pretended they were waiting for a report. The Taoiseach should tell the truth. No one believes his position on this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy The subject matter of this Question has already taken up a considerable amount of the time of this House and we cannot have a rehash of it now. I will be proceeding to another question shortly. If Members [1822] wish to debate this matter they must put down a substantive motion.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton I categorically rebut the allegation made by Deputy Bertie Ahern. I have already indicated that I was not in a position of knowledge with regard to that matter until the receipt of the report on 21 May. I regret that Deputy Ahern is not accepting my word on this matter, in view of the fact that I have stated it categorically. I draw his attention to the fact that officials in the Department of Justice and the Garda Press Office have categorically denied the allegation Deputy Ahern is repeating in the House in the face of those denials.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue What consultation, if any, took place between the Government or its officials and the British Government or its officials following the transfer of the Garda who was found to have mislaid the original warrant? Can he identify who was involved in those discussions? Would he accept that he and the Minister for Justice were aware before 21 May of the transfer of that Garda?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton That matter has already been the subject of answers in this House. The question tabled today relates solely to contact between my office and that of the British Prime Minister and I have answered it. If the Deputy wishes to join Deputy Bertie Ahern in making unfounded and malicious allegations he may do so but he should do so separately.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I put it to the Taoiseach that if on Saturday, 13 April the Office of the Attorney General and its British counterpart were in contact on the subject of providing a further warrant, it must follow that those two offices were satisfied that an original was not available to either of them in Dublin or London and it must therefore follow that they were satisfied that, whoever was responsible, the original [1823] had somehow been destroyed or mislaid.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Again we are having repetition.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton Of course it was obvious that the original was not available in the court but once that was discovered and as there was a limited time available, the priority was not to engage in a discussion as to who was to blame, where the original had been mislaid or by whom. The priority — in the limited time available, because of the person in question — was to deal with a further warrant, and that was done. The subsequent inquiry into what had happened to the original warrant and who was responsible was not dealt with substantively at that time. However, it was so dealt with subsequently in a report presented to the Minister for Justice which was presented to this House on 21 May.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern Since there was discussion between the offices of the two Attorneys General and between the Taoiseach's office and that of the British Prime Minister on the day of or the day after the court case in relation to the issuing of the new warrant, does that not pre-suppose a recognition by both sides, particularly the Irish side, that the warrant was destroyed and lost?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy We have had this question.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern A discussion in that respect must surely have included——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy We cannot afford the luxury of repetition.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern ——reference to the whereabouts of the first warrant. When dealing with the liberty of an Irish person, there is no way the authorities on this side of the Irish Sea could go into court and produce a second warrant [1824] without giving the justice relevant information on the whereabouts of the first warrant, which was supposed to have been produced in court.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy The Deputy's point has been adequately made.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton Zoom on John Bruton I have already answered that question.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern Not adequately.


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