The inquiry into how Department of Justice emails released last night were missed in the first trawl of documents for the Charleton Tribunal must be led by an independent external expert if it is to have the full confidence of the public, the Social Democrats said today.
Speaking following Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, the party’s co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said:
“I welcome the fact that the Taoiseach is commissioning a review, to report before Christmas, on how the cache of Department of Justice emails published last night were missed in the first trawl of documents for the Charleton Tribunal.
“The Taoiseach indicated today that this inquiry would be conducted by the secretary to the government. This amounts to the civil service investigating itself and that is simply not good enough.
“For the public to have confidence in this fresh review, it must be carried out by an expert from outside of the civil service. This individual must be seen to be entirely independent, with no connection whatsoever to the senior ranks of any government department.
“The serious question to be addressed here is why the department did not fully comply with the discovery orders made by the Charleton Tribunal regarding records related to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.
“The review’s findings must be conclusive and unassailable. We cannot risk the review being tainted in any way or having its credibility questioned. The Taoiseach’s judgement has been found to be seriously wanting in recent days. He told the Dáil today that he wants to shine the brightest of lights in the darkest of places – if he wants to get to the bottom of this affair, he must bring in an outsider who can inspire public confidence and is seen to be fully independent.
Deputy Shortall added:
“I welcome the Taoiseach’s commitment, in response my questions in the Dáil today, to seek legal advice as to whether it is possible to publish the full transcripts of the O’Higgins Commission hearings. This is an essential next step if we are to finally unearth the truth about the former Garda Commissioner’s legal strategy to tarnish the name of Garda whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe.”