“While I am supportive of the principle of putting time limits on the workings of tribunals, the way that Minister Shatter has approached the Smithwick Tribunal has been completely inappropriate. When this was established, it was very different in terms of its subject matter and purpose from the other Tribunals that have generated such frustration among the general public. One of the central purposes of the Smithwick Tribunal was to help build confidence among the unionist community in the North and demonstrate the Republic’s good faith. On that basis, my party and I have been strong supporters of the Judge’s work.
“By acting unilaterally and apparently without even basic consultation, Minister Shatter has caused enormous damage to that cause, has undermined a lot of the good work that has been ongoing and has demonstrated an appalling lack of interest in how his actions would impact on the perception of the Republic among our unionist neighbours.
“The Minister has brought forward a motion tomorrow where he seeks to effectively cut the feet from under the Tribunal. Again, this has been brought forward without basic consultation or explanation, in breach of assurances which the Dáil had been given on the tabling of such motions. It is incredible that this is being tabled with only 48 hours notice and without the Government publishing a single piece of paper to justify or explain its purpose. To try and rush this through with almost no debate is extraordinary in the circumstances. The Fianna Fáil party will be opposing the motion and we will be calling on the Minister to rethink his approach on this sensitive issue.”