The confidentiality guarantee offered to witnesses prepared to give evidence to a tribunal that might discommode officialdom is as old a swizz as any in the Sir Humphrey Handbook.
It guarantees a process that looks like an inquiry and that quacks like an inquiry but definitely does not walk like an inquiry.
After all, if a tribunal’s conclusions cannot be published, then it seems that even holding one is a pointless sop to the idea of “establishing the facts”. In those circumstances, muddying the water seems more likely than clearing the air.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar used it to good effect in the Maria Bailey case, though it seems certain that the final bill for that shabby dodging has not been finalised, much less settled.
The same can be said of Government plans to quarantine child abuse records for 75 years, even though the majority of those whose testimony in recorded in those files have expressed concern over the proposal. It is hard to think that those brave people would not want their ordeal exposed so it might not be inflicted on others.
Just like Jeffrey Epstein’s death, such a silencing seems all too convenient.