You’ll remember Mr Justice Frederick Morris, chairman of the Morris Tribunal, investigating the Donegal guards. Well, he hasn’t gone away, you know. Yesterday, his reports on three modules of his investigation were released and they make interesting reading. It’s worth quoting what he says about our police force nationwide:
The Tribunal has been staggered by the amount of indiscipline and insubordination it has found in the Garda force. There is a small, but disproportionately influential, core of mischief-making members who will not obey orders, who will not follow procedures, who will not tell the truth and who have no respect for their officers.
You remember John White, don’t you? This is the sergeant who vehemently denied farting at a suspect. He accepted that he had imprisoned two entirely blameless women, intimidated them, shouted at them, kicked chairs around the interview room and shown them post-mortem photos of a dead man. But he definitely didn’t fart at them.
Well, John White, as you may know, was recently acquitted of planting a sawn-off shotgun at a tinker’s camp so that he could later “find” it and arrest some people. The State failed to meet the criminal burden of proof , which is proof beyond all reasonable doubt, and so White was let off.
In his reports, Fred Morris said that White did actually plant the shotgun. What’s this about? Well, there was a murder in 1998, and White got a hint from somewhere that the tinkers were involved. So he decided that the best way to investigate it would be to plant a shotgun at the camp, and then arrange a search party so that he could arrest the suspects when they found the weapon. Which is exactly what happened. A search warrant was issued by Supt Kevin Lennon (of whom more later), the gun was duly found and the tinkers arrested. They were held for a while but never charged.
Let’s just quote Morris on the search warrants: The lies that have been told by Det Sgt White and Supt Lennon on this aspect make it impossible for the Tribunal to establish exactly when they were issued. Charming.
After White was charged with planting the gun, the Tribunal found that three other guards formed a conspiracy to corruptly invent a story as a defence for him. They tried to frame two guards who had nothing whatever to do with the matter, in an effort to implicate them in planting the gun. Morris again: All three men were determined to make trouble at every hand’s turn and to create as much black mischief through lies as would defeat any legitimate inquiry for the truth.
Then you have the bomb on the transmitter. Let’s talk about the bomb on the transmitter. The local people in Ardara had a television deflector mast that re-broadcast TV signals to people’s home’s at no cost. Then the whole thing was regulated in such a way that businessmen could charge you for giving exactly the same service as you had before for free, which was a great help to the ordinary people of Ireland. I believe it might have been introduced by the well-known crook, Ray Burke as minister for Communications. There were protests, understandably. Somebody set fire to a container-load of equipment belonging to the new operator of the TV service, and White was determined to make arrests. What did he do? Did he take fingerprints? No. Did he deduce through inescapable detective logic who the perpetrator must have been? He did not. Did he set up surveillance and painstakingly build a case? Did he fuck. He planted a fake bomb on the mast, made out of bangers, and then he arrested three local guys for it.
Right, well what about the “silver bullet” affair? Well, we have to go back in time a little, because I know this could be confusing to a lot of people. It certainly confuses me. This is an offshoot of the earlier attempt to set up the McBrearty family for a murder that never happened. Briefly, a man called Richie Barron was knocked down and killed in Raphoe. As a matter of interest, nobody has ever determined who was responsible for the hit-and-run killing, and it remains a mystery to this day, though if you read through the facts, you would have to be very dense not to come to certain conclusions. Morris speculates on this in his earlier report, and hints heavily in a certain direction though he’s obviously constrained in saying what he really thinks. But whatever else you can say on the matter, the Guards were determined to secure a conviction for it, and anybody would do, it seems. Well, almost anybody. They decided to frame the McBrearty family who owned a pub and night-club in Raphoe, and falsely arrested a large number of people as well as fabricating evidence.
After the Guards failed to pin anything on the McBreartys concerning the death of Richie Barron, they launched a campaign of harassment against them that involved stopping them on the road, objecting to their pub licences and using agents provocateurs, including the dimwit, Bernard Conlon. Let me give you a little background on Bernard Conlon. This guy, it would be safe to say, is as thick as a fucking plank. He has convictions for burglary, theft, malicious damage, indecency, malicious damage and cattle-maiming. Cattle maiming? What’s that? Does Bernard say to his mother, “I’m away out now and damage a few cattle there, aye, right enough, damage a couple of cows and that there. Seeya later, hey.” OK. Whatever it might be, that’s Bernard. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. One sandwich short of a picnic. One pint short of a hangover. One banana short of a fruit salad. One lunatic short of an asylum.
So Bernard was encouraged to go into Frankie’s as the McBrearty establishment was known. And he was encouraged to have a few pints, which I don’t imagine was a difficult task. And he was encouraged by White to have a drink after hours so that he could be “found on” in a raid on the pub, as part of the harassment campaign.
Now, you might remember Mark McConnell and Michael Peoples, members of the extended McBrearty family. These guys had previously been arrested in connection with the supposed murder of Richie Barron, and subjected to harsh treatment by the police, though they were innocent because there was no murder.
Bernard Conlon, now living in Sligo, made a statement to the guards that he had been approached by two men who threatened him by showing him a silver-coloured bullet. “There’s one for you and another for White.” He later stated that the two men were Mark McConnell and Michael Peoples. The Sligo police investigated and the two men were picked up for questioning. At the same time, Sgt White and Sup Lennon, discovered that Conlon knew the two men by sight and should have identified them immediately, but didn’t bother to tell the Sligo guards because it suited them to have the men harassed. Anyway, they were too busy prosecuting the McBreartys for licensing breaches and anything else they could think of. (To me this is all a bit fishy, but it’s as far as the Tribunal can go on the evidence put forward. I don’t think Lennon or White “became aware” of anything, and Morris hints at this in his report).
Jesus Christ Almighty. Where are we going here? What are we talking about?
Well, we’re talking about our national police force, of whom Morris has been hugely critical. He has explicitly stated that the malaise is not confined to Donegal but is nationwide and extends throughout the force. We’re talking about an organisation that guarantees our constitution, and yet which contains many members who think themselves above the law. We’re talking about the survival of our country as a democracy.
This is something I quoted in an earlier piece, from an earlier Morris report. The spirit wearies at the lies, obfuscations, concealments and conspiracies to destroy the truth that would be apparent to any reasonable person. After these reports, I’m more worried than ever.
The opening quote is worth repeating: The Tribunal has been staggered by the amount of indiscipline and insubordination it has found in the Garda force.
The RUC was closed down for less.