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Human Rights in Ireland >>
Spotlight on Gardai in controversial trial.
crime and justice |
Saturday April 19, 2014 13:09 by Mark White
Please allow me an opportunity through your site to comment on the interesting I.Green article (31st March 2014) on Garda corruption. While the article deals with a number of cases I will focus on one case in particular, which is less likely to get mentioned during all the present hype into the endless Garda tapes debacle. In my view the case of Michael Mc Kevitt is equally, if not more significant, regarding corrupt activity by some members of the Gardai. Evidently misdemeanours by certain individuals throughout the Mc Kevitt case were endemic. Fearful of the reverberations it is very unlikely that the state would permit the case to be reopened.
The information I wish to highlight concerns the appointment of Detective Garda (name known) to the position of security driver to Mr Justice Richard Johnston around the time of Michael Mc Kevitt’s arrest. On the face of it the appointment may appear normal practice but on closer examination it reveals something more disturbing. The reason for this issue being of such significance is due to the fact that the judge (Johnston) was the senior judge presiding in the Mc Kevitt trial and the Garda driver had been on surveillance duty on Mr Mc Kevitt for a considerable period prior to his arrest. As a result the Garda driver would have had detailed knowledge of and was familiar with Mr Mc Kevitt. From a legal standing there was certainly a conflict with the driver’s appointment at that time but perhaps there was another sinister dimension to it.
Of course the appointment of that particular driver to Mr Justice Johnston could be coincidental but the fact that he had worked with the Garda unit involved in Mc Kevitt’s case certainly smacks of a deliberate and deceitful scheme that had been in progress around that time. However, regardless of what one may think or say of the appointment, it was totally inappropriate in legal terms and the information should have been made available to Mr Mc Kevitt’s legal advisors back then, apparently it wasn’t.
Had such information been divulged it would have had ramifications during the trial process or at the subsequent appeal hearings. It would unquestionably have had a bearing on the eventual outcome of Mr Mc Kevitt’s trial and subsequent conviction. At very least it would have resulted in a retrial.
It must be conceded however, that no one could dare accuse either men of exchanging inappropriate views or comments during the drive to and from the court and wherever else they travelled during his term as driver. However, regardless of what excuses were forthcoming, had it been divulged at that time the defence lawyers would have made objections and the judge would not have been permitted to preside over such a major trial, for obvious reasons. Questions would also have been asked concerning the appointment of the driver and it could and more likely would have warranted an investigation. It must also be conceded that Mr Justice Johnston may not have been aware of the driver’s prior duties either. On the other hand the Garda driver would have had full knowledge of the inappropriateness of such an appointment and he should have brought it to his superior’s attention but more importantly to the Judge’s attention. One can only assume that everything was kept quiet but it was known in some quarters, they also knew that it was inappropriate and it was decided to conceal it. The fact that it wasn’t brought to anyone’s attention can only leave one to speculate that something was seriously wrong with such an appointment at that time.
I have followed a number of those cases mentioned in the Green article for a considerable time but the Mc Kevitt case has always fascinated me. I am amazed how the case from a human rights viewpoint has not been highlighted throughout the trial and subsequent appeals. I have come to believe that the authorities and particularly many in media circles tainted Mc Kevitt and his entire family so much that no one would dare highlight his case fearful of being described as being a supporter of militant republicanism. The media’s activity against Mc Kevitt was designed to create an image in the minds of the public to ensure that he was guilty even before the trial got under way and it worked.
Although many legal inconsistencies are well documented throughout the case, I am confident that there are many other serious factors that have been covered up, like the one just mentioned. The fact that former Garda Commissioner Callinan was the leading investigator in the case should in itself merit an examination into the more questionable allegations in the case including the serious contradictions uncovered in Callinan’s evidence.
John Wilson the Garda whistle blower speaking on the Late Late Show (4th April 2014) said that he believes that many more revelations will come out in the months ahead. Perhaps someone’s conscience will feel the guilt and decide that it is time to come forward as a whistleblower in the case of Michael Mc Kevitt. Maybe they should listen to the speech from the new Commissioner in Templemore (April 4 2014). In it the interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan signalled a change in attitude towards whistleblowers. However, only time will tell if she is serious.