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Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Smithwick accuses Minister Shatter of interfering with tribunal

Justice Smithwick also complained about an inappropriate deadline for his inquiry’s completion.

THE CHAIRMAN of the Smithwick Tribunal submitted his interim report to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter today, as letters from the judge accusing Shatter of attempting to interfere with the inquiry were released.

The tribunal is investigating claims of garda collusion in the IRA murders of two RUC officers in 1989. Though set up five years ago, the tribunal only recently began hearing evidence from witnesses.

The BBC reports that while Judge Peter Smithwick’s interim report was submitted today, correspondence between Smithwick and Minster Alan Shatter was also submitted to the Dáil.

In the letters, Smithwick accused Shatter of attempting to interfere with, and compromise, the tribunal’s proceedings by imposing a “wholly inappropriate” end of June deadline on the report, the Examiner writes.

Having earlier recorded that the tribunal suffered delays because of its inability to compel witnesses to return from beyond its jurisdiction to give evidence, Smithwick said in his letters that the deadline could encourage reluctant witnesses to hold out for just a bit longer until the tribunal was believed to have run out of time.

RTÉ reports that Shatter rejected the judge’s claims and said the tribunal could have extra time if needed.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin said in a statement this afternoon that today’s revelations suggest that the Dáil was misled when asked to vote on proposals to impose a deadline on the tribunal.

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