Morris Tribunal: Garda corruption exposed

By Michael Murphy Socialist Voice Nov. 2002

THE MORRIS Tribunal set up to investigate the Gardai in Donegal opened at the start of November. The Tribunal was set up to investigate a series of complaints against the gardai, including threats of extortion and hoax telephone calls, allegations of harassment of the McBrearty family and complaints that some guards may have been involved in hoax explosives and bomb making equipment finds.

The events being investigated by the Tribunal stem from the death of cattle dealer Richie Barron, who was found dead on a roadside in October 1996, and subsequently the circumstances surrounding the arrest and detention of Frank McBrearty jnr., who allegedly confessed to the killing of Richie Barron while in Garda custody. It is now generally accepted that Richie Barron was killed in a hit and run accident on the night in question.

However the Tribunal is a sham - the main people at the centre of the controversy, the Mc Brearty family, are not represented at the Tribunal because they cannot afford legal representation and they also believe that the terms of reference of the Tribunal are too narrow.

Indeed the investigators appointed by the Tribunal to investigate the criminal activity of the guards are an ex-guard, Michael Finn, and a member of the Canadian Mounted Police.

Michael Finn played a key role in the wrongful conviction of Nicky Kelly for the Sallins Mail train robbery in 1976 and it was also alleged that he had assaulted Kelly while he was in custody.

This Tribunal comes at a time when public confidence in the guards is at an all time low. It comes not long after the investigation into the shooting dead of John Carthy in Abbeylara in April 2000 by the emergency response unit of the guards. Serious questions about the behaviour of the guards in the run up to his death still remain to be answered.

Many ordinary people were outraged and shocked by the images of the actions of the guards in May of this year when they went on the rampage battering anti capitalist and environmental protesters off Dame Street in Dublin. A number of guards are awaiting charges for their participation in these events.

The Socialist Party believes there should be a full public independent inquiry into the events in Donegal and no members of the Gardai past or present should be involved in that inquiry in an investigative capacity. The McBrearty family and all of those victimised by the gardai in Donegal deserve justice.

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