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Minister Heather Humphreys

Delay to Nugent probe publication ‘beggars belief’

A SIXMILEBRIDGE family has stated the nine-month delay concerning the publication of a state inquiry report into the Garda investigation concerning the death of a deceased 23 year-old banqueting manager “beggars belief”.

A spokesperson for the Nugent family has also hit out over the lack of communication with the family, describing it as a “total disregard”.

Former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald appointed retired District Court judge Patrick Clyne to lead an inquiry under Section 42 into the Garda investigation and disciplinary inquiries that took place following the death of Patrick Nugent (23) Feenagh, Sixmilebridge at the end of a 40th wedding anniversary party in the early hours of February 11th, 1984.

Judge Clyne completed his inquiry on October 31, 2020 and the Department of Justice received this report on November 3, 2020.

The family are concerned about repeated delays in publishing a report concerning the inquiry, which started in January 2017.

Deputy Michael McNamara has tabled Dáil questions asking the new Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys, and her predecessor, Helen McEntee when she will share the report of the inquiry into the adequacy of the An Garda Síochána investigations and disciplinary inquiries following the death of Mr Nugent with the family, and if this report will be published.

The Independent Deputy has consistently criticised the delay in providing this long-awaited report as “adding insult to injury” to the family.

In response to his Dáil question last February, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys said the advice of the Attorney General on publication, and on receipt of those advices she expected to be in a position to advise on the timelines further, but was not in a position to do so at this juncture.

“I do appreciate, however, that Mr Nugent’s family are anxiously awaiting the outcome of Judge Clyne’s investigation, and I will be in touch with them as soon as it is possible to do so,” she stated.

A family spokesperson confirmed they got a letter from the Department of Justice about a week after this Dáil question, but the family or their solicitor have received no communication from the department or the minister since then.

“It is bad enough waiting this long, but we are not been kept informed. It is a bit like what was happening years ago when the Nugent family was finding out more information from the press than from the government. It is the very same now.

“It is a total disregard for the family. It is not good enough. We can’t understand why it is taking so long. Why can’t they give us the report and let us know the outcome of the inquiry. Helen McEntee gave assurances in the Dáil last October before she got the report that she would publish it.

“We are left wondering will we get the report this year or next year. This inquiry was granted in the public interest. It is not just the family who want to know what happened during the Garda investigation.

“We have been left in the dark again. We don’t know what is going on. As far as we were aware the Department of Justice had already received the advice of the Attorney General, they would consider this advice, publish the report and give it to us.

“Now, it seems they have gone back to the Attorney General again.”

Responding to Clare Champion queries, a Department of Justice spokesman said initial advice on the Clyne report was received in December, and following detailed consultation, further advices were recently received and are being considered by the department.

“The minister is conscious that Mr Nugent’s family are anxiously awaiting the outcome of Judge Clyne’s inquiry and she is keen to be in touch with them as soon as it is possible to do so.”

By Dan Danaher

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