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Only the Rivers Run Free : The Irish State in Donegal and Elsewhere.
crime and justice |
Tuesday September 27, 2005 01:08 by Brian Nugent
This is just a rundown of some recent revelations in Ireland that have come to light during the summer of 2005.
More details have now emerged about the McBrearty case particularly from a speech that Frank McBrearty junr. gave in Dublin on July 29th.
Clearly the state had put them under a lot of financial preassure with for example many people suggesting that the large number of licensing charges were designed to bankrupt his fathers business. Also "...the Minister and the Morris Tribunal have used legal costs to sanction us and, we now fully understand that this is the instrument by which he has tried to use to coerce us into subdued silence.."(1)
He talked at length about the ongoing campaign of slander and the related false charges that were thrown at them:
"..the venomous whispers placed in the ears of government ministers and other state officials, which formed a key component of a campaign of damaging innuendo directed against us by his [McDowell's] Garda friends."
You can see this in the summary of the Carty report that was sent to the Minister of Justice by the gardai. The Minister says that the gardai refused point blank to allow the government to see the full Carty report but they did get to see this summary which talked about a 'manipulative' Frank McBrearty senior .(2) The list of false charges goes to over 300 in the District and Circuit courts and includes
"public order offences, dangerous driving, assaults that never happened. They also accused us of giving money to the Provisional IRA, blackmailing witnesses, intimidating witnesses and threatening Gardai and state witnesses who were Garda informers."(3)
This slander campaign also involved dividing the local community and Frank says that the gardai basically "brainwashed" the Barron family against them for example.
One point that Frank has also repeatedly tried to get across is that the Irish police force are not an ordinary police force but rather are "basically run by Special Branch". He points out that unknown to most people all the senior gardai ("every single one of them") are members of this secret police force which is a circumstance surely unique in any democracy. He feels that this means that the circumstances in the South are very like that of the North with the securocrats running the show.
We also now know more about the use of torture by the gardai from this case because an edited video of Frank's experience in Letterkenny Garda Station has now come to light.(4) Frank has described how he prayed he would die during it (5) and how he had to receive psychiatric help in the years following the torture, a thing common to many of those 'interviewed' in garda stations in Donegal and elsewhere.(6)
Frank has since found out that the video was edited before being given to his legal team and that the parts which were deleted showed the gardai walking on his head and burning him with cigarettes.
In fact torture and the gardai have been a lot in the news lately particularly with the Rossiter case which many people think is an example of garda brutality gone to a tragic extreme. Obviously this is where the teenager Brian Rossiter was arrested with a friend in 2002 and imprisoned in Clonmel garda station after which he was found in a coma which lead to his death. The gardai have their own explanation for his death but both his friend Anthony O'Sullivan and Tony Burke, who were in the garda station, say he was beaten up by the gardai .(7) He also had injuries consistent with being repeatedly struck in the groin.(8) This witness Tony Burke has recently had his house thrashed by the gardai supposedly looking for a gun but he is certain it is actually to keep him quiet about the Rossiter case.(9) Anthony O'Sullivan's mother meanwhile decided to withdraw a complaint she had against the gardai about the injuries to her son because she was terrified of garda retaliation against him.(10) This appears to be a well grounded fear , as an indymedia editor has pointed out:
"... the legal advice that I have heard is to refrain from making complaints to the gardai. People who make complaints and who look like having a good case for a civil action often get given extra criminal charges in order to discredit them in advance of the civil case. The gardai have the freedom to add extra charges to cases where they see fit due to evidence from their 'investigations' (like their investigations into the police complaints book)."(11)
This is an account from Oly who was beaten up by the gardai during the mayday protest in 2002:
"Warning to other people who have made complaints, that they may be under surveillance and may face intimidation.
I was hospitalised on May 6th and required stitches to my head. I made a complaint the following day and found legal representation. Last Thursday, my solicitor warned me that the Gardai have also set up a group of detectives in Dublin Castle who don’t seem to be concentrating on ‘complaints’, as they may pretend to be, but damage limitation. They may be involved in logging or receiving records of dialed and received numbers on your phone, possibly text messages etc. and that these records could go back a few months. So if you think this information may concern you, take note.
It is ridiculous how we get beaten, complain and end up under investigation."(12)
What makes the Rossiter case such a sad one is the way that father and son were separated just before Brian's death. The gardai are actually not permitted to hold overnight a person of Brian's age so they called his father but when he got there they took him aside and gave him a long spiel about how his son was out of control, causing trouble taking ecstasy etc and his father believed this and wanted him kept in the station to teach him a lesson.(13) It was only afterwards, as he found out from the hospital that in fact they had found no trace of drugs in his sons system, that he began to realise that the gardai had lied to him and had set father and son apart at that crucial moment. This kind of thing is not an isolated phenomenon involving the gardai, for example when the gardai came for Frank McBrearty at the beginning of his ordeal they screamed at his children that their father was a murderer(14) and Rosin McConnell was told that her husband was having an affair when she was arrested as part of the Barron saga.(15) As Karen McGlinchey, the Donegal nurse, has pointed out:
"Gardai have perfected the art of manipulating people and the unfortunate circumstances of their families over many decades .The high profile of the McGlinchey family and their semi-publicised marital separation was consistently used by various gardai to peddle to one side of the family or the other the lies orchestrated by Lennon, McMahon and the other members."(16)
Depressingly the Rossiter case has now being added to by other examples of people killed in garda custody in particular Trevor Wheelock in Dublin.(17) Trevor's case involves Store street garda station which you might wonder must harbour a strange kind of policeman when you consider the mysterious urine spraying case. This is where a number of homeless youths were drenched in urine that was thrown on top of them from an upper floor of the garda station. (18) Their case was taken up by a social worker who was also hit. This worker is convinced the gardai didn't realise there were social workers there which presumably means she feels this practice was a deliberate and presumably common enough treatment of homeless people. She was determined to pursue the matter vigorously through the courts but she eventually settled for a small sum because:
"I was told that if I didn't settle I could be liable for other side's costs, so I couldn't take the risk."(19)
Its obviously not news that the gardai would treat homeless people like this as you can see from the reply that David got when he asked a garda why he had kicked him in the ribs:
"I can’t be arsed bending down and I don’t like touching shit with my hands!"(20).
Fr Peter McVerry SJ who works with the homeless is trying to highlight the ongoing problem of "young homeless persons being ..bashed up in garda stations." He says that currently its completely hopeless for a homeless person to take legal action because it comes down to his word against the gardai and he has found that the powers that be always choose to disbelieve the homeless guy. He compares the situation in garda stations to the famous Castlereagh Interrogation Centre in the north pointing out that torture there was stamped out by insisting on the presence of medical personnel which he hopes will be done in the south. He thinks as well that the situation with the gardai is very like what had happened in the Magdalen laundries where the local people knew at least a little about what was going on but lacked a "sense of outrage" which is needed to stop it happening. Its his opinion that there is "no accountability [over the gardai] and the guards know it and they can do what they like." (21)
Torture in Ireland was also the theme of a recent showing on TG4 of the documentary "Faoi Lámha an Stáit" which featured Osgur Breatnach who was tortured and framed by the gardai as part of the Sallins Train robbery case. He described his ordeal and the psychological problems that he continues to suffer from as a result and which has unfortunately ruined his life. Many other details were given about these practices of the gardai but as well there was some revealing facts about garda special branch. Íte Ní Chionnaith a lecturer in Irish in DIT was interviewed and she outlined how in some four instances the special branch intervened to deny her employment even though she has never been convicted nor even charged with a terrorist offense. She managed to find out about a letter that was sent to her prospective employer mentioning her presence on some secret blacklist that is kept by special branch. She has unfortunately been unable to get a copy of this letter. The program also talked about harassment of activists mainly in the 70s. The impression was given that the state was not so much after real terrorists but was more intent on going after Irish language enthusiasts and historians as if, according to the program, the authorities were at war with their own culture.(22)
Another case was highlighted recently on Indymedia where the gardai 'ransacked' a house in Tallaght and systematically beat up some members of Na Fianna that were gathered there. There are even reports that one member with Cerebral Palsy was violently assaulted. The interesting thing I think about this case is this reference:
"A caller who identified himself as a member of the Special Branch rang the landlord of the rented accommodation and informed him that the tenants partner was a member of the I.R.A.
Whether this call was made with the consent of the branchmans superiors or not is unknown . The branchman also claimed that they had been searching for explosives and firearms when they raided the house . The caller then made a read between the lines comment which hinted at further raids - " That man is under constant surveillance and it is continuing surveillance " . This phonecall was obviously intended to bully the landlord into canceling the Fians partners lease ." (23)
Clearly the landlord will have had an opportunity to look over his wrecked house and will be wondering what repeated raids will mean for his property. I think you can see how this kind of quiet phone call and the above secret list can really impact on the lives of people who never get a chance to have any charges against them aired in open court.
The ongoing drama about the death of Sophie du Plantier in Cork is also rarely far from the headlines.(24) This is where an investigative news reporter called Iain Bailey who had reported on the case and "who had been very critical of the local Garda bungling of the investigation" (25) has subsequently been hung drawn and quartered for the crime in the Irish media even though the garda file on the case which was sent to the DPP is admitted not to contain enough evidence to charge anyone for the murder. The main evidence against him rests supposedly on a local woman who claims she saw him in the distance as she drove around the area at 3.30 am on the night in question. She says also that Bailey has tried to intimidate her whereas he claimed in court that she approached him to complain about the duress the gardai were putting her under to make a false claim against him. Meanwhile the media job on Bailey has been relentless and involves the use of extracts from his diary that were seized from him by the gardai. He doesn't now have the diary and wasn't even allowed access to it to prepare his case during the libel trial. The main claim in the media against Bailey is that he assaults women but the only evidence for this relates to a number of domestic incidents involving his partner Jules Thomas. What is interesting is that she is adamant that he is not a violent man and that those incidents are wildly exaggerated. Here is some of what Thomas was saying during the libel case:
"It has been alleged that Thomas spoke of the "terrible state" of du Plantier's body; it was allegedly inferred that she had taken pictures of the scene hours before news of the murder broke, and it was further alleged that around this time she was seen driving from the direction of the du Plantier house.
What is extraordinary about these and other claims is that Jules Thomas flatly refutes them, as does her partner. She has claimed that, while under arrest, the gardai pressured her into making and signing statements about Bailey having "duped" her.
The Welsh-born artist denied that Bailey was a violent man, and suggested that reports about the brutal beatings were "completely out of proportion for a domestic".
Thomas said the media had subjected the couple to an ordeal "a million times worse" than any of the beatings.
Jules Thomas denied that she had ever contacted Farrell or that she had told the shopkeeper: "We must do everything in our power to protect Ian."
Thomas declined to speculate on the reported sighting of Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge. However, she was convinced that Bailey was writing in her kitchen that morning. She denied that she had told gardai that her partner had a "raw, fresh and big bloody cut" on his forehead that morning.
Asked about differences in her statements to gardaí and her account in court, she said: "They kept putting words in my mouth." "(26)
So in fact it is said now that the community is divided between some who believe the garda/media story and some who believe Bailey is being framed. One person who has given the latter version of events describes the atmosphere:
"In a flurry of hysteria and fear the insular local population were quick to agree with Gardai that Mr Bailey was "guilty", although no evidence existed to condemn him. Rumour upon rumour was circulated until, like Tony Blair with the weapons of mass destruction lies about Iraq, everyone "knew" Mr Bailey was guilty. They just "knew". Some locals who had themselves been previously ostracised by the herd came forward to say how Mr Bailey had "confessed to them". This solved their problems and eased their way in the community and with Gardai."(27)
The garda/media story has been that the witnesses against Bailey have been intimidated but this source states that the opposite is happening :
"As for local gangs of vigilantes who have been hounding Mr Bailey for their personal pleasure and to ingratiate themselves with local Gardai, well, they are what they are."
Meanwhile a local anti-war activist who has taken Bailey's side has himself been raided by the gardai and faced false charges which he feels are designed to discredit him.(28) Overall you would have to say that it looks like Raphoe on tour!
Rossport has obviously been rumbling along too and there are shades of that in the case of William Finnerty and the other members of a "very small, demoralised, dejected and bewildered community" in Kilconnell, Galway, who have been trying to oppose a super dump. It has snowballed for them from a simple planning matter to one where it seems they have to fight for "genuine democracy" against an "elected dictatorship".(29) They are shocked at the realities of the Irish media for example where there is little (if any ?) coverage of an attempted bribe of 50,000 euro made by the developing company to the chairman of the protest group.(30) Mr Finnerty has had to fight an ongoing expensive legal fight against charges that he shouted at a County Council employee and for which he faces a possible 18 month jail sentence.(31)
There are quite a few other cases that have come to light in the media in Ireland over the last few months that might repay noting down. There is the shocking case of what appears to be Serial Ritual Abuse of children in the Murphy household in Dalkey that stretches over a few decades. It was first mentioned in a long article in the magazine of the Sunday Independent in April last year but left out of that account was the statement that one of the victims has made of the involvement of at least one garda in this abuse. In particular the victim claims now, in a recent Sunday Independent article, that it was the relationship her father had with this garda which has caused all the delay and loss of evidence in her case.(32) As far as I know all the other news media have shied away from mentioning this garda angle except the Evening Herald which made the amazing statement that this garda abuser was in fact a "top garda".(33) It is also stated that 'Niamh', one of the victims, is having a lot of trouble with slander of her in the media. Specifically there is a lot of discussion of the merits of Regression therapy while in fact she never received that therapy, her testimony being entirely from her own unaided memory. In this long favourable article by Brigid McLaughlin it is clear that the victims are perplexed as to what party would have the power in the media to spread such a false story.(34) This story of a 'top garda' and SRA abuse carries with it echoes of the many cases like this which have occurred around the world where it seems that paedophile rings often need some kind of high up political or police protection to survive. This has proved true in Australia (35), the US (36), Belgium (37), France (38), Chile (39), Latvia (40), Portugal (41), and even some rumours about the UK (42). In fact there have always been stories like that circling in Ireland as well, for example this was the front page story in the Sunday Independent Sept 1 2002 :
"MALCOLM Macarthur, prior to his trial for the murder of young nurse Bridie Gargan, may have been about to make sensational claims that an organised paedophile ring existed within the institutions of the State.
A senior garda involved in the investigation into Macarthur’s murders has told the Sunday Independent that he believes Macarthur had sensational information which would have rocked the foundations of the State.
This information, he said, related to the alleged paedophile activities of politicians, members of the legal profession and civil servants. Other senior Garda officers have corroborated the investigating garda's suspicions, although they all believe Macarthur was not himself a paedophile."(43)
I guess whatever the truth of the Macarthur case the chances are that the powers that be in Ireland know a lot more about it than the rest of us bearing in mind that the garda who arrested Macarthur was Commissioner Noel Conroy and Michael McDowell was one of his barristers.(44)
A few other cases that have come up in the High Court recently are of interest I think. Firstly there is the case of Margaret McGreal of Castlebar Co.Mayo who was arrested in Oct. 2002 and accused of stealing money from her employers shop. She was strip searched and humiliated according to her affidavit and her solicitor decided to contact the husband of the owner of the shop who happened to be Superintendent Patrick Doyle. Her solicitor claims that in the garda station the Superintendent demanded 30,000 euro from her which if she didn't pay would result in her being "hung" in court for the alleged theft. He claimed this was the amount that was stolen but when the case actually came to court the defendant was only charged with the theft of 582 euro. She was charged with this even though under this preassure she gave the 30,000 to the Superintendent. The High Court found that the garda authorities were not liable for any damages as a result of this because it was held to be a private matter between the employee and the shop owner.(45)
The High Court has also been dealing with some interesting revelations by Tom Gilmartin the Sligo businessman who is the star of the Mahon tribunal. It turns out that he had given the tribunal a lot of very revealing information which the tribunal in its wisdom decided not to pursue when he was questioned in open session. This strange reluctance of the tribunal to explore this topic has not gone without comment by the High Court :
"The precise circumstances of this interaction are far from clear, because Mr. Gilmartin has said nothing relevant and the tribunal has observed a studied and at times Delphic economy of disclosure on the topic."(46)
In particular Mr Gilmartin relayed the substance of some conversations that he had with the Cork businessman Owen O'Callaghan during which Mr O'Callaghan apparently said that he gave offshore payments of 100,000 pounds to Bertie Ahern and 150,000 to Albert Reynolds. Gilmartin had also been told it seems that both of them had offshore accounts in Jersey, Liechtenstein and the Dutch Antilles while Ahern "also has deposits in England". (47)
The McBreartys anyway have been snowed under with phone calls and messages from people similarly treated by the gardai and the state and this lead them to hold some public meetings where these victims could air their experiences. What follows is a short report on one of the meetings in Raphoe on 3rd Sept:(48)
Senator Jim Higgins MEP of Fine Gael
He described how the McBreartys had come to his clinic in Ballyhaunis and he persuaded Frank senior to draw up a statement of his experiences and armed with that he fought in the Dail [along with Brendan Howlin] to get the Morris tribunal set up. He has dealt with many cases as the former Justice spokesman for Fine Gael and building on that knowledge he described the gardai as the "so-called enforcers of law and order". He points out that the McBreartys have "let the genie out of the bottle" and in his opinion "this momentum is not going to go away". He also particularly wanted to point out that this culture in the gardai is not confined to Donegal but is "endemic" across Ireland.
Frank Connolly who broke some of these stories as a journalist with the Sunday Business Post
He came to Donegal first to inquire about planning corruption and was lead to investigate the McBreartys from a lead he got from a solicitor and it snowballed from there. He followed the case of Hugh Diver and his brother where poitin was planted by the gardai. He describes meeting Sheila McMahon who described her horrific experiences at the hands of the gardai, especially her husband. She also stated that the gardai conspired with the Health Board to harass her and attempt to separate her from her children. Frank also spoke to the Gallagher family who in fact didn't want any publicity about the raids in St. Johnston because at that time they were simply too terrified of the gardai. In these cases the state never of course responded to help these families. The media also didn't respond and this he found particularly ominous. The local media were as silent as the national organs although they later showed some interest. In fact he found that some of the security correspondents working for the national media actually went to some trouble to rubbish this story coming out of Donegal. "Given the scale of corruption in Irish life" he doesn't think that an ombudsman by himself would fix very much.(49)
Dan Boyle TD of the Green Party
He describes himself as a frustrated member of the Dail lamenting the "failure of our national parliament " to hold the gardai accountable. In fact he feels that "people of this country should demand a democracy that works." He points out that in fact the police are simply not answerable to the elected representatives bearing in mind that the gardai have "no legal obligation to come before the Dail." Dail questions on police matters are always "creatively misinterpreted" so they aren't much use.
PJ Brogan from Inver Co Donegal
Many people wondered as well about the quality of the Gardai's investigation of many cases including car accidents etc, alleging that simple information and clues are frequently ignored. Here is possibly the best example of complaints on that front which is so bad it proved to be funny and at the meeting had the audience rolling around in laughter despite its seriousness.
A close relative of PJ rang the garda station at 9.30 one morning threatening to shoot PJ and his family. The Gardai informed this person that it was nothing to do with them unless he actually carried out an attack. One hour later PJ was shot through the eye by this person. The perpetrator then walked into the garda station placed the fired unregistered illegal sawn-off-shotgun onto the counter and said "I shot the f__ker". Then he simply walked out with the gardai making no attempt at all to apprehend him. Despite these facts and the fact that he admitted the crime in court, where the gardai also admitted the above facts, he was still acquitted and continues to commit many serious crimes. PJ later found out that some members of the jury were linked to the defendant and put on the jury for that reason. He also contacted the Minister for Justice outlining the above facts who wrote back assuring him that the gardai "went by the book" conducting a "thorough" and "professional" job. The person referred to is in fact well known to have a close 'relationship' with the gardai.(50)
PJ in trying to get justice in this case has been through the same experiences as all these families all over Ireland. They write or visit TDs who sometimes don't reply or just lie to them. They rarely get replies from media outlets or journalists. PJ was in fact told by a reporter on a local newspaper in the area that yes they knew about the case etc but they simply aren't going to publish his story because it would show the gardai in a bad light.(51) He tried to to take a civil action and one local solicitor did agree to take the case on a no foal no fee basis. The case went on for many years and eventually he confronted the solicitor who informed him that he had decided to drop the case for reasons that he was not prepared to go into. PJ is now certain that he was threatened early on and that the subsequent proceedings were only designed to string him along maybe even in the hope that he would die in the meantime. Needless to say he is also continually harassed by the gardai who constantly drag him through the courts on trumped up charges. In fact he was even jailed for a short time in Mountjoy for non payment of a dog license.
She is originally from Dublin now living in Roscommon and was seriously assaulted , nearly strangled, in Roscommon by a group of two men and a woman. So she was admitted to hospital in Galway and after about 5 days she was visited by the gardai who assured her that they were going to pursue the matter noting that they 'never lost a case on the medical evidence.' Back home sometime later she was amazed to discover she had been served with a summons, and so she rang the gardai to know what was happening and got a ton of vitriol poured over the phone to her. It then turned out that the 3 people were going to prosecute her! Meanwhile the gardai claimed they never met her in hospital and denied all the facts that had occurred. It dawned on her that in fact the 3 people and the gardai had a close relationship and which she feels now she can prove. Meanwhile she managed to get her medical records under the Freedom of Information Act and in there the doctor had recorded the gardai's visit while she was in hospital. In any case when the trial came around she found that she was convicted because of the way that the gardai were able to withhold evidence from the case. Her conviction was also smoothed along its way by a powerful amount of slander that was directed at her mainly by the judge who accused her of being a drug addict and a martial arts expert which was completely untrue. I think she said as well that this was widely reported in the local media destroying her reputation. In her own words she referred to this as being painted as 'mad,bad and dangerous to know'. (Modesty forbids further comment !lol.) She also suffers continual harassment which forced her to move house etc.
Susan Grey Conegal.
8 years ago her husband had been killed in a car accident on Boxing Night and subsequently to that "the agony the guards have put me through is unbelievable". I think this is the case that Eamonn McCann refers to in this quote:
'“It was then I realised that this man [the Superintendent] wasn’t here to help me,” Susan says.
”But he wanted to find something damaging or intimidating, to keep me quiet.” She suspects senior guards involved in the case were in a close relationship with an insurance company.'
Eamonn McCann further notes that:
" It would resonate right across society. There is a widespread understanding that the cases which have come to light don’t represent a deviation from the norm, a distortion of the way things generally are done. They are typical of the way society works."(52)
Famous nurse not beloved of war mongering neocons! She described that in fact she had a long 5 year struggle while living in Donegal trying to retain access to her child from totally false charges pursued by the Health Board there. She has some interesting things to say about her own court cases. Her legal team abandoned her on the the steps of the court and after the case was adjourned her main task was simply to get her file back from her solicitor. When she asked for it from him he promptly told her he would shoot her. These facts didn't disturb the Law Society when she complained about it and in fact she now feels they are only interested in protecting the lawyers. Anyway when she eventually got the files back after 14 months she discovered numerous documents missing and some forged. Its her experience that the government does not have much power in Ireland , rather the gardai and the media are the big elements.(53) She doesn't feel that an Ombudsman would make much difference since in her opinion the state is so corrupt that they would handle an ombudsman somehow.
A Teacher (I think a Mrs Farrell)
Her story starts when she, and another person, were arrested by gardai at the time of the Punchestown Races. There they were badly assaulted. They managed to interest Joe Higgins in their plight and she feels that it was the threat of bad publicity that his involvement could generate which caused to gardai to take their next step. They accused these 2 people of assaulting the gardai. (Obviously this tactic is a kind of early slander where most peoples impressions of an event are formed by the first story they hear and in this case its a lurid one of 'hooligans' etc assaulting hard working gardai. Its hard for people later to get across their 'conspiracy theory' that the opposite had occurred.) They decided to try and fight the case anyway and had to remortage their home to pay the legal fees. Unfortunately to their amazement the state was able to call on 11 gardai and 2 other witnesses to this mythical assault. Their only witness was a doctor who was testifying to their injuries received in garda custody and he found himself insulted by the judge. Her experience is sadly that the "vast majority of them [gardai] are rotten to the core" and that there is a widespread "culture of cover up".
A former activist talking about his experiences in the Dublin anti drugs movement of the 80s and 90s.
Obviously this movement started with a group of people very frustrated with the garda response to the huge drug epidemic in Dublin. He didn't get time to describe the history of this movement in detail but basically he said it was crushed ruthlessly by the gardai. The main tactic they used was fabricated evidence against the activists. I believe he said that some people are still in jail on this bogus evidence. They also charged the children of the campaigners to put preassure on the parents. Although he didn't say this presumably the gardai were also careful to slander the movement in the public eye as being just a front for paramilitaries which it seems they were not. What this activist really wanted to point out though was that while the gardai acted with such haste against this movement they didn't seem to be able to catch drug dealers who were openly selling their wares in broad daylight within a few yards of police stations. It may be that he has figured out this mystery when he pointed out one of the gardai involved in the McBrearty case is well known in Dublin as being "as much a drug dealer as a guard".
Eugene from Castlerea
He has been fighting a long case against the gardai who were trying to frame him in a complicated story involving guns and ammunition. It apparently derives from a number of people trying to seize his lands.(54) He has found that his only defence is a video camera that has recorded much valuable evidence and he advised everybody else to invest in one.
He has had a long struggle dealing with the state arising, I think, from the famous case in the Shannon Estuary where a number of families and livestock suffered serious illnesses arising,in all probability, from air pollution caused by some large local industrial plants. Anyhow his dealings with various state bodies has lead him to the conclusion that Ireland is an "elected dictatorship of crooks".
The state agencies for example skewed the environmental surveys by deliberately selecting unusual control areas to compare the data with. Unfortunately the legal profession he found to be just as corrupt and he ended up on a hunger strike outside Blackhall Place. They are "rotten to the core" and act like (or are?) "freemasons". He particularly detected collusion between a solicitor and insurance company. He also feels that they would be able to get around small changes like the provision of an Ombudsman.
Owen Smith from Co.Monaghan
In 1991 he was the Vice Chair of Monaghan Co. Council and on the day that Margaret Thatcher resigned he was celebrating the event in his pub along with many people representing the 'cream' of Monaghan society when he was arrested by gardai. He told everybody as he was being arrested and during his detention that he did not intend making any written or verbal admissions which I must say is very believable in a Sinn Fein activist being arrested in the 90s. Yet despite this he was sure enough subsequently charged, in great publicity, with an IRA attack the main evidence against him being verbal and written admissions supposedly made in custody. He managed to avoid being convicted only because he had no less than 27 witnesses testifying to him being elsewhere at the time. To draw attention to his plight at the time he wrote to all the various bodies and never got any reply. Many speakers noted that Sinn Fein are going to start highlighting many long standing garda practices that they feel the public should know more about.
A psychiatric nurse he was trying to investigate money laundering and theft of possessions from patients in his care as a result of which his superiors started to raise problems with his performance to get him sacked. In his opinion the practice of stealing land etc from patients and stealing from their small allowances is pretty widespread. One of his patients bank accounts actually rose in value in suspicious circumstances which caused him to suspect money laundering. For his pains he was known as an "effing loose cannon" and victimised at work.
Of course he was jailed for 2 and half years while in his 60s by the gardai and for which he has subsequently got a miscarriage of justice certificate. Incredibly despite the high profile nature of his case and all that he has already gone through he finds that he is still under crushing harassment from the gardai. The knowledge that this is continuing to happen is clearly hitting him very hard and his voice was breaking as he describes his astonishment at their arrogance. In new court proceedings he now finds garda after garda trooping in and he says perjuring themselves one after another. It is his experiences of many of his local gardai that they are "serial perjurers". He cannot say much about his own new case because of the sub iudice rule which he now feels is just used to gag him.
James Smith and Joe Doherty
They have spent 20 years trying to highlight corruption in Ireland and for their pains they (or at least one of them) were served with some kind of lifelong legal injunction preventing them pursuing the cases they were dealing with.(I know that will sound bizarre to some people but the fact is that many people had stories to tell about injunctions they had received where not only the court proceedings were held in secret but even the fact that they had been served with far reaching injunctions like this was also something they were legally forbidden to inform people about. Its obviously no surprise then that few people are aware of that practice). Anyway they found that the legal profession is "so rotten its unbelievable". Meanwhile the garda were slandering them as being members of the IRA. Numerous people approached them talking about being battered by the gardai and also about the very corrupt banks and even the land registry. Its their experience that the high up gardai are all corrupt.(55)
Donal O'Siochain from Kerry.
He has been helping many Irish people caught up with the gardai and the legal system and has emerged as quite an expert on the Irish justice (or injustice) system.
He has also seen the kind of isolation that so many victims are going through and hence he is very keen on seeing a national movement begin which might bring a bit of much needed solidarity .He gave as an example the case of two people who picket Abbeyfeale police station every two weeks to try to highlight what they are going through at the hands of the gardai and this kind of lonely struggle is what he feels should be replaced by a vibrant national organisation. He clearly has a font of anecdotes about the many senior corrupt judges including those whose name the public would readily recognise. He related particularly the story of a joyrider killed unlawfully by the gardai in Cork. They were able to cover up that case only by systematic perjury by up to 60 gardai and by jailing witnesses on false charges in order to "bury them inside the justice system".
Peter Preston from Dublin
He has been in a long struggle trying to get justice for his daughter who was assaulted by having a glass pushed into her face in a private lounge pub in Dublin. The upshot is that he feels he can prove through court transcripts that there was a conspiracy in this case involving two police stations and a High Court judge. In trying to get action he has unfortunately had to even go on hunger strike outside the Dail. In any case he gave this evidence to some senior members of the Labour Party in the hope they would pursue it but found out that they weren't really interested and he even states that some documents were changed and some missing when he got them back. He does not absolve these senior TDs from suspicion of being involved in this tampering. His saga of course involves the usual threats and intimidation that are always made against people caught up in these cases.
Finian Fallon from Dublin
This case highlights that even where the gardai are the victims people should still be wary of following the media's interpretation of events. Finian is the son of Garda Richard Fallon who is often given as the first garda victim of the troubles. He was gunned down by members of Saor Eire when he tried to stop a bank robbery in Arran Quay in Dublin in 1970. It is Finian's view now that in fact the gun used in the attack was imported by the state and paid for out of garda funds. He is even quoted in a newspaper article as saying that one of the killers escaped in a Cabinet Minister's car.(56) He talks about "physical and psychological violence" perpetuated by the state.
Ciaran Donnelly from Co.Kildare
It all started for him when his young child was made homeless during a family law case and he is determined to bring to book the people who did that. So he has been involved in this family law case since 1997 and he has been amazed at the practices of the Irish justice system. For example after painstakingly trying to piece together the history of some decisions he found that some were written up by the court clerk or judges secretary rather than by the judge who was ill and who's signature was therefore forged. His persistence brought down upon him the usual harassment , he is now stopped regularly by the gardai, he has received threatening phone calls that his son will be hurt if he doesn't back down, and the upshot is that at times he has been too terrified to go outside his front door never mind speak publicly about his case. He also points out the practical realities of the family courts for example the legal aid centres are supposed to aid those who cannot pay for the legal costs but he discovered in his case that a senior executive of the legal aid board had actually contacted all the centres in order to ensure that they wouldn't assist in bringing the type of legal challenge that he was planning to take. He found he had no choice but to try and represent himself only to find that you can be greeted by open laughter and sniggering when you try to do that in the family (in camera) courts. When he tried to contact one politician about his case he was actually threatened with an injunction if he didn't stop contacting him.
Jim Gallagher from Dunloe Conegal
In 1980 his brother was arrested and taken to Letterkenny Garda station where he was beaten up for two solid days and nights. More harassment came from the Special Branch especially since 1996. He has found that this constant harassment from the gardai gets worse any time they try and bring a complaint. He has tried to tackle this legally but generally he has found that no solicitor is prepared to take it up.
Catherine the aunt of Tim McGarry who was found decapitated in the training centre of Mountjoy Jail.
Her nephew was supposed to have committed suicide but she cannot get any satisfactory answers about what happened to him from anybody. Since 1992 she has been contacting the President, the gardai, TD's etc and never got any real answer from any of them. In fact she now says that she has "absolutely no hope of finding out what happened to my nephew."
Jim Gallagher Donegal (57)
His view of Ireland's policing and judicial system were completely shattered when his farm was raided in March of 1997 by the gardai supposedly looking for explosives. His family were held prisoners by the gardai for 5 days and its the experiences of this physical and psychological abuse that the family suffered during that time that has started his family on yet another long and generally fruitless search for justice. About the only bright spot was when Jim Higgins raised his case in the Dail and for which he is very grateful. He also talks about the psychological trauma suffered by his family especially at the beginning , when his family were "an emotional wreck" and before the McBrearty case allowed people to come forward because only then did anybody believe or accept these cases of state harassment. In fact he talks about the whole mindset and education of the Irish people as ill fitting them to cope with this reality. He said that too many people, including himself, were brought up with a "legacy of asking no questions of the gardai." In fact he feels now that people have "no idea whats going on in the background" in Ireland. "Whats called a democracy and [the image of] 'lovely Ireland'" in fact hides "a cesspit of corruption". He says that if people only knew what his family and the McBrearty families have had to go through they would realise that "its rotten right through". In fact in trying to get answers he has begun to wonder who actually runs the country and feels a lot of the institutions are actually "such a sham". But his family have been living in his locality for 300 years and they are not going away any time soon and not till they get answers to these questions.
Paschal Reilly of Belmullet Co Mayo. a psychiatric nurse.(58)
On the 7 September 1992 he was assisting with a psychiatric patient who was held in the custody of the gardai. The patient died because he was given 2 drugs which were contraindicated for this patient. It appears that the gardai had deliberately given him these drugs because Paschal publicly at the meeting accused them of (quote) "murder". This has started him on the usual long struggle against the gardai and during which he was falsely imprisoned , the local community were shown leaked garda documents (falsely) accusing him of IRA membership in order to slander him etc etc. He is hoping his case will come up now in the High Court (I think) in December this year. His family are actually island people from Iniskea and he feels strongly that those communities are very fortunate to be free of a garda presence.
Some people also feel that a garda murder may have occurred in the case of Shaun Duffy who was found dead near Dunloe in Donegal earlier this year. It has been reported in the local media in Donegal that in fact two gardai have been called into questioning with respect to this murder. The Phoenix is so far as I know the only national media outlet to mention this case although it was also mentioned for a time here on indymedia.(59) Otherwise the Irish media has reverted to its traditional silence when it comes to garda misdeeds. The point about the media here I think can be seen clearly when you consider that Duffy's murder occurred around the same time as the McCartney murder in Belfast. Both cases have of course not come to trial and as such hard evidence can be hard to come by but the media is only too anxious to speculate about who killed McCartney while as I say the informed views of the local people in Donegal in their opinion as to what happened to Duffy are not considered worthy of comment. It is particularly said that Duffy tried to get some incriminating information on senior gardai in order to protect himself from the gardai taking cases against him. The Phoenix reported that he had told friends shortly before he died that he had information on the gardai which was much more damaging than the McBrearty case. Rumours circulating locally allege that he even had incriminating photographs of a high ranking local garda.
Apart from that its been a great summer!!!!lol (60)
1. http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=71227 . Many thanks to R.isible for transcribing this and "Citizen" for recording it.
2. http://debates.oireachtas.ie/DDebate.aspx?F=DAL20050617.xml&Node=281 Here is a sample of this from this report which was no doubt widely distributed and known unlike the hard facts which would point to an opposite conclusion:
“Frank McBrearty snr is a forceful individual who likes his own way.
“He is a manipulative person who has tried to manipulate the initial investigation with Billy Flynn, and it is also believed that he tried to manipulate the conduct and direction of the present investigation by other means.”
Conroy's report went on: “It is evident from the behaviour of Mr Flynn that he was endeavouring to manipulate the garda investigation to the purpose of his employer.
“The initial investigation was disrupted by the behaviour of the private investigator, Billy Flynn, who re-visited witnesses who had given statements to the gardai and tried to get them to change their evidence.
“Those with evidence which could be interpreted as casting suspicion in the direction of the McBrearty family were particular targets for Billy Flynn.
“In some cases, inducements to alter statements were offered and refused.” (from http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2005/07/24/story6654.asp )
3. The dublin meeting op cit.
6. See Orwellian Ireland footnote 31 at http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=70223 .
7. Village magazine 16-22 Sept 2005 p.9 .To his credit Vincent Browne has championed this case both on his radio show and in repeated editions of this magazine.
8. http://www.sluggerotoole.com/archives/2005/06/irish_corruptio.php . See also the Vincent Browne Show 22 June 2005 RTE Radio 1.
9. The Village op cit.
10. I'm pretty sure I read this in the Irish Independent but I cannot find the reference now.
11. by Badman at http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=5102
13. This website details a lot of the media coverage of the case: http://www.irishcorruption.com/?cat=18
14. http://breaking.tcm.ie/2005/09/21/story221859.html and see the McBrearty video op cit.
15. http://web.archive.org/web/20031005165716/http://www.sbpost.ie/web/Home/Document+View+Business/did-489357560-pageUrl--2FBusiness-2FNews-Features-2FAll-New-Features.asp The article is By Barry O' Kelly and here are some quotes from it:
"She claimed Sergeant White talked about taking her child off her and putting him into care, and that she would do seven years in jail if she didn't tell him what happened that night.
She alleged she was shown photographs of Richard Barron's dead body and offered a detailed description of them. She said the photographs were shoved into her face and the officers began to switch the lights on and off.
Sergeant White was calling her Satan and the devil and said she would never see her father in heaven and that she would go to hell for what she was doing.
The tribunal lawyer said McConnell alleged Sergeant White said her husband was having an affair. She was made bless herself and pray to her dead father. Sergeant White allegedly then turned to her and asked her what her father had said and she replied he had told her she was telling the truth.
McConnell's solicitors say that as a result of her ordeal, she was admitted to St Conal's Hospital for psychiatric treatment.
McConnell is still deeply traumatised and has been unable to work ever since. "
Sergeant White claims that any role he had in this was entirely at the direction of his senior garda superiors which in all probability is true.
16 Karen McGlinchey "Charades" (2005) p.267 . Karen has commented on this "strategy of isolation" tactic in an earlier article of mine at http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=69044 and I would just like to thank her for her kind words and to take her correction as regards her sister's finances. I think she has taken the right course too in writing a good book which I hope is an example that will be widely copied. Hopefully some day the people of Ireland will really rise up and stop this kind of thing from happening to her family and all the other families which we now know about.
17. He has recently died having been in a coma for 3 months. see Ireland on Sunday Sept 18 2005.p34 article by Ken Foxe. There it is described how the family are getting the usual runaround being denied access to any of the evidence which is being withheld from them by the gardai etc. See also the case of John Maloney http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=968880&issue_id=9157 and http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1141837&issue_id=10557 which is part of very much the same pattern this time involving Rathfarnham garda station.
18. http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1329452&issue_id=12013 .
19. http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1338794&issue_id=12075 Sunday Independent Feb 13 2005 .
21. Vincent Browne Show as above 22 June 2005 RTE Radio 1.
22. This good documentary was produced by Scun Scan of the Rathcairn Gaelteacht in Co. Meath and was also broadcast on TG4 on Feb 21 2004.
24. Mentioning the defence claim that Marie Farrell had told Bailey that she herself was put under duress by the gardai to make a false statement http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1095581&issue_id=10185 .This is elaborated on in another article at the time, here it is just mentioned at the end in passing.
also http://www.sbpost.ie/web/DocumentView/did-84313623-pageUrl--2FMisc-2FEzine.asp .
30. http://web.archive.org/web/20040623174433/http://newswire.indymedia.org/en/newswire/2004/03/801052.shtml . The bribe attempt mentioned in the Dail: http://www.gov.ie/debates-03/1Jul/Sect4.htm
31. http://www.constitutionofireland.com/EuropeanCommunityAndOtherLeaders/Email.htm where he points out: ""Please also note that the criminal offense I am being charged with is for shouting at a Galway County Council enforcement-officer, AFTER, and for no good reason that I know of, he unconditionally refused to look at an unlawful sewage discharge: which was within yards of where he was standing at the time.....
.....I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that the very long and ongoing abusive legal nightmare I am being subjected to..."
32. Sunday Independent July 3 2005 http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=36&si=1427193&issue_id=12701 "A decade-long quest for justice after a childhood of unimaginable horror".
33. Evening Herald Monday of July 4th 2005.
34 http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=36&si=1438454&issue_id=12779 "A beautiful life lost to utter hell"
37. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/correspondent_europe/1962244.stm and http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,710090,00.html
38. http://www.prisonplanet.com/tales_of_orgies_and_murder_rock_france.html and
42. http://groups.google.com/group/uk.politics.misc/msg/2553eaffedd873ab? and the amazing if it were true: http://www.offmsg.connectfree.co.uk/OffBEAT/britton.htm
44. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_McDowell and http://www.examiner.ie/pport/web/ireland/Full_Story/did-sg3fP9rRXRqnc.asp
This is an example of Tom Gilmartin's experiences of the Irish Justice system which is remarkably similar to what the Donegal and other families are saying:
"Q 258 If you didn't trust Allied Irish Banks, if you didn't trust Mr. O'Callaghan, if
you didn't trust Mr. O'Callaghan's solicitor Mr. Deane, why not write into the
Law Society and complain about Mr. Deane being involved in the falsification of
A Well, as I seen it, I'd get the same justice as I got in Cavan.
Q 259 Why not write into the Law Society?
A Why would I write into the Law Society? What would they do for me.
Q 260 Did you not know that the Law Society --
A It's well-known that the Law Society here -- most of the complaints that I've
heard about being written into the Law Society are never seen to or taken care
of. That would be a waste of time, in my opinion.
Q 261 Well, are you saying you considered the possibility of making a complaint to
the Law Society?
A No, I never thought of the Law Society until you mentioned it. They are not
the people -- I have made complaints to numerous people and all that but I got
Q 262 Why didn't you complain to the Gardai?
A Well, I did go to the Gardai and I was told "f*** off" back to England".
Q 263 Who told you that?
A A man claiming to be a Mr. Garda Burns, and he was quoting back to me the
statement I'd made to Mr. Sreenan.
Q 264 Surely now, Mr. Gilmartin, that's a grotesque distortion of the facts?
A That is a fact, a fact, an absolute fact, and I'm under oath. I don't take an
Q 265 You made complaints about payments to certain politicians and a Chief
Superintendent of the Garda Siochana --
A I didn't say the Chief Superintendent. I said a man claiming to be a Garda
Burns. I didn't see the man's face. I don't know what he was, who he was, but
he did know what I had discussed with Mr. Sreenan.
Q 266 Listen to the question, Mr. Gilmartin. You made complaints about payments to
politicians and a Chief Superintendent of An Garda Siochana was appointed to
look into those complaints. He contacted you on a number of occasions looking
for statements and you didn't give him any statement. You had his telephone
number and you knew how to contact him.
A No, I had a phone call after my first discussion with Mr. Sreenan to tell me
that there had been, through various investigations into the people, and that
they found no evidence whatsoever that there was any wrongdoing, so the best
thing I could do was to F off back to England and not be making false
allegations about peoples whose names they had already checked out and emerged
with their names unsullied.
Q 267 And subsequent to this conversat