7. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if the Government has requested the extension of the Pitchford inquiry to include the activities of the British undercover police while here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7624/17 asked on 16 Feb 2017)
Deputy Paul Murphy: Last week on Leaders’ Question, I raised with the Taoiseach the work of the four British undercover police officers whom we know of who operated in this State. They are Mark Kennedy, Jim Boyling, Mark Jenner and John Dines. I raised the need for the Irish Government to join the Scottish, German and Northern Irish Governments in seeking the extension of the Pitchford inquiry to include the operations of those undercover officers in this State. The Taoiseach said the Minister, Deputy Charles Flanagan, would raise it with James Brokenshire last week and would issue a statement, which still has not been issued. Have we made any progress on this?
Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: The UK’s undercover policing inquiry was established by the British Government in 2015 in order to investigate and to report on the undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968. It is chaired by Lord Justice Christopher Pitchford. That was a matter solely for the British Government in accordance with UK law. It is established under the UK Inquiries Act 2005, which does not provide powers for extraterritorial inquiry.
The Deputy mentioned other countries. I understand they made representations seeking the extension of the inquiry’s terms of reference but the UK Home Secretary, having considered those representations, decided that the terms of reference of the inquiry would not be so amended.
Although in this context, the question of my seeking the extension of a UK inquiry does not arise, as I have indicated on several occasions, should anything emerge from the findings of the Pitchford inquiry that would be relevant to policing in this jurisdiction I will consider it fully and take any action that may be required.
The Deputy is correct that my colleague, the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, met the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on Tuesday and, as part of their wider discussions, raised with him concerns that have been expressed in the House on matters relating to the Pitchford inquiry. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland agreed to convey those concerns to the Home Secretary.
Allegations regarding an undercover police officer in this jurisdiction were first brought to light in 2011. A report from the Garda Commissioner at that time noted that no evidence of any criminal activity by that person had been established. Of course, if there was any evidence, and if anybody has any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, it should be brought to the attention of the Garda.
Deputy Paul Murphy: Does it not concern that Tánaiste that four men were in this country operating as undercover British police agents? It has now been admitted, with an apology from the Met, that all of them had intimate relationships with women. One of them, Mark Kennedy, started a relationship with Sarah Hampton, who has written to the Minister repeatedly without getting responses. The Minister does not seem to want the extension of the inquiry. There is logical inconsistency in saying “should anything emerge from the findings of the Pitchford inquiry”. Nothing will emerge about Ireland unless Ireland is included in the inquiry. Why does the Minister not request the extension? British police officers were operating undercover in this State. We do not really know whether they had the permission of the Government, the Department of Justice and Equality or the Garda. They were operating here. I know one of them was arrested. I know Mark Kennedy was here on multiple occasions. He was operating as an undercover police officer. How is it-----
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): I want to give the Deputy the usual caution to avoid naming people in the House.
Deputy Paul Murphy: He has been named repeatedly in the House.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Well, he will not be named repeatedly today.
Deputy Paul Murphy: Mark Kennedy. Mark Kennedy. Mark Kennedy. I will name him a lot.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): I am sorry, Deputy, that was a gentle reminder.
Deputy Paul Murphy: That is fine. There is no logical reason not to request the extension. In the North an extension was requested and it was denied, but there was a court case which has now opened up to a full hearing. Why do we not request an extension of the Pitchford inquiry?
Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: I have already told the Deputy what the situation has been when other countries requested it. The Home Secretary, having considered the representations, decided the terms of reference of the inquiry would not be amended. That is the first point, which is a really practical point on the UK approach to any extension of the terms of reference.
The Deputy mentioned a particular person. Speaking generally, the Garda authorities are aware, of course, of allegations in respect of the presence here in the past of a person who has been the subject of media reports. A report from the Garda Commissioner on these allegations makes clear that no evidence has been established that the individual in question was involved in any criminal activity here in Ireland. Obviously, as I have said to the Deputy, and I do not know if this is what he is implying, but if there is any question of criminal activity clearly it should be brought forward. If the Deputy or anybody else has evidence of it, that should be brought to An Garda Síochána. That is the information I have on the point the Deputy has made.
Deputy Paul Murphy: Let me be really clear. Sarah Hampton says she felt raped as a result of this relationship with this undercover police officer.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Hold on.
Deputy Paul Murphy: No.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): I am sorry, Deputy.
Deputy Paul Murphy: No.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): What do you mean “no”?
Deputy Paul Murphy: Why are you trying to interrupt me?
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Resume your seat for a moment. It is a long-standing tradition of the House that we do not name people in the House for obvious reasons.
Deputy Paul Murphy: I did not even name him that time.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Well, you did. You named a person.
Deputy Paul Murphy: I named Sarah Hampton.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): I am sorry, Deputy.
Deputy Paul Murphy: Yes, you should be sorry because this is all on the public record.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): I do not know what game you are playing. Hold on now. You either abide by the rules the same as everybody else-----
Deputy Paul Murphy: I am abiding by the rules.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): -----or we will move on. It is as simple as that. Name somebody again and I am moving on.
Deputy Paul Murphy: I will give the same quote I gave on Leaders’ Questions last week. She said she felt she had been raped, that she never consented to sleeping with a police officer. Does the Minister not have a concern about this? She had relations with somebody-----
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Deputy-----
Deputy Paul Murphy: What?
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): This is not a court of law and I do not want it used as a court of law and neither does the House.
Deputy Paul Murphy: That is fine.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): It is not in accordance with the rules of the House. I am sorry.
Deputy Paul Murphy: That is fine. I am asking the Minister a question as to whether she has any concerns about-----
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Well you do not have to name the person.
Deputy Paul Murphy: That is fine. I did not name him again.
Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard J. Durkan): Deputy, please do not go there.
Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: If somebody has been raped of course I would have concerns, whatever the context. If there is evidence of this, clearly it should be brought to the attention of An Garda Síochána. I would assume if it has there will be a file and an effort to investigate it if there is evidence to be pursued in the courts. Asking me whether I would have concern about a woman who has been raped, of course I would, whatever the context.
Going back to the broader point the Deputy is making, and in a broader context than the particular point the Deputy has put on the record of the House, it is the advice of the Garda authorities that assistance from police services from other jurisdictions in intelligence gathering is a recognised and necessary tactic for managing circumstances where persons from outside the jurisdiction who are unknown to local police may seek to engage in criminal activity here, including a variety of activities which could be protests. This is entirely an operational matter for An Garda Síochána and it is carried out in accordance with its functions as set out in the Garda Síochána Acts. Neither I nor the Department have any involvement whatsoever in such arrangements. There is no question of anybody in that circumstance being permitted to engage in criminal activities. I hardly need to say that. Of course they would not in any circumstances. Any evidence of criminality would have to be pursued fully by the Garda authorities. There is no question of a police officer from outside the jurisdiction exercising police powers here.