When it transpired in November 2017 that the Irish Department of Justice had failed to disclose certain emails involving the Minister for Justice to a Tribunal of Inquiry into an alleged police campaign against a whistleblower within the police, the minority Irish government almost fell, saved only by the reluctant resignation of the Minister for Justice and Deputy Prime Minister, Ms. Frances Fitzgerald. The Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, appointed Michael Collins SC to conduct an inquiry into how and why the Department had failed to disclose the crucial emails, the absence of which led the Prime Minister to unwittingly mislead Parliament on two occasions as to the knowledge of the Minister in relation to an alleged police strategy against the whistleblower. Mr. Collins delivered his report on 9th March 2018 and the Government published it on 27th March 2018. Mr. Collins concluded that in response to a request for assistance from the Tribunal, the Department disclosed relevant documents from the Policing Division of the Department but failed to conduct searches of its own internal emails (which search would have unearthed the controversial emails). No meaningful explanation was offered for this failure beyond a perception within the Department that the Tribunal’s terms of reference were primarily focused on the police force rather than the Department. However, Mr. Collins also concluded that there was no deliberate concealment and that the Department and the Minister at all times acted in good faith.
Mr. Collins’ report is the subject of an editorial in the Irish Times 29th March 2018.