Garda denies threatening woman with seven years in jail

Another Garda has denied that Brolly and McConnel were mistreated in Garda custody, Sean Herraghty:

“It was just said in general chat that if she was convicted she could get seven years,” Mr Herraghty said. “There was no threat involved.” He agreed it probably would unnerve a prisoner a little.

Asked if it was calculated to do so, he replied: “Possibly, yes.”

Ms Brolly made complaints of mistreatment while in custody against Det Garda Dooley and Det Sgt John White who have admitted they mistreated her and her sister Róisín McConnell.

More bugging allegations

John White has been making more allegations about the bugging of Garda stations throughout the country.

Det Sgt White said two gardai­ witnessed the bugging of an interview room. They were beside the man and the machine and they could name the man who was using it, he said. The two gardai­ made statements to this effect.

“They told me that they were quite willing to give evidence about all this. It was in a murder case in Cork in 1992 and they can definitely give sworn evidence that the interview room was bugged and they saw it happening and they heard it happening.”

Mr Whelan asked if they were prepared to come to the tribunal.

“They are and they have made statements to their own superintendent about it and there was supposed to be an investigation but they believe there was a cover-up and they have told me that,” he said. They had all the reports and documentation necessary to show that, he said.

Tribunal lawyer Paul McDermott SC said they had received a statement from one of the gardai­ and the matter would be pursued.

Michael Durack SC for the Garda Commissioner and senior officers said that Chief Supt Austin McNally, Asst Commissioner Kevin Carty and Asst Commissioner Dermot Jennings hotly contested this claim of bugging in Garda stations.

How long will we have to wait to hear more about these claims?

Garda station bugging widespread, detective tells tribunal

This is probably the most under reported story in recent times. It appears to have gone completely under the radar. The repurcussions of this, if true, are absolutely staggering.

Det Sgt White said bugging in Garda stations was a well-kept secret. He had told two senior officers, Assistant Commissioner Kevin Carty and Chief Supt Austin McNally, of the internal Garda investigation team, about it in 1999 but they both told him they were not going to investigate it.

He had made an allegation that an interview between Ra³isa­n McConnell and her solicitor was bugged at Letterkenny Garda station in 1996 when she was arrested in connection with the investigation into the death of Richie Barron. However, yesterday he said bugging was widespread.

The chairman, Mr Justice Frederick Morris, asked if the Letterkenny bugging was not an isolated incident and he replied: “No, not by any means.”

Read that again. A former Senior Detective from Donegal has said that it is a widespread practice in Ireland for the Gardai to bug rooms where suspects are speaking to their solicitors. Not alone that, but when told of this the Carty team (headed by the then Assistant Commissioner) ignored it entirely. One has to ask the question, why? Why would the Assistant Commisioner ignore such a huge allegation? Did he believe it to be spurious? Did he know of the practice but choose to ignore it?

How many laws would this be breaking? How many constitutional rights to this infringe on? How many trials and investigations have been tainted by this practice? Why has no one investigated this allegation?

This warrants at least a look by an independent authority. Oh yes, we don’t have one.

Detective sergeant 'sorry' for sisters' hurt

John White has asked for an apology, but why did he deny the women’s story for 9 years? He got the nail on the head that the culture in the Gardai is to ‘deny allegations where possible’.

Tribunal counsel Paul McDermott SC asked Det Sgt White if he would have continued to deny the allegations, as he had for nine years, if Det Garda Dooley had not made his new statement.

Det Sgt White said he had not thought about this module as he had been involved in so many others, but he would not have committed perjury.

“To be honest, Mr Chairman, I was hoping they [ Ms Brolly and Ms McConnell] wouldn’t come in,” he said. Mr McDermott said there was not a scintilla of evidence to suggest that Det Sgt White was going to tell the truth before last Saturday.

While giving evidence yesterday, Det Sgt White said: “I want to apologise to the two ladies, Mrs Ra³isa­n McConnell and Mrs Katrina Brolly, over the pain and hurt or trauma that they were caused by the interviews,” he said. He said he had meant to say it previously but his head was in a fog.

Det Sgt White said when the complaints about mistreatment were made officially, he met Det Garda Dooley and they discussed it and came to a decision that they would not admit to wrongdoing.

One reason for this was that some of the serious allegations made were not true, another was self-preservation and also that the investigation would not come to a hearing, he said. Another was that he didn’t want to go against “the culture that was there to deny allegations where possible”.

He said he had never threatened to take Ms Brolly’s children away. It was not a threat, it was a fact. If she was convicted, she would go to prison.

Asked what the apology was for, he replied: “The apology is about the photos being shown to Mrs Brolly and the abusive language used to her.”

If she was upset about what was said about her children, he apologised for that.

Claims of mistreatment at interview denied by garda

Joan Gallager is the only Garda left who has stuck to her original story in relation to the questioning of Katrina Brolly.

Garda Joan Gallagher denied there was mistreatment of Katrina Brolly during an interview at Letterkenny Garda station in 1996 in connection with the death of cattle-dealer Richie Barron.

She denied she pulled Ms Brolly’s hair, that there was abusive language by gardaa­ or that post-mortem photographs of Mr Barron had been shown. These allegations were made by Ms Brolly and by Det Garda John Dooley in a dramatic change to his earlier statement denying all claims.

Det Garda Dooley is on sick leave and is recovering from a severe bout of depression.

Det Sgt John White also issued a statement last week changing his evidence and admitting his part in mistreating the suspects. He could not remember a hair-pulling incident, but had no reason to doubt Det Garda Dooley. He could not identify at which interview the photos were shown.

Garda Gallagher said she was in at the second of three interviews with Ms Brolly. She said the events alleged did not take place. Det Garda Dooley was a friend of hers. She had known him for 13 years and he was an upright and honest man.

“I believe John Dooley believes what he is saying and doesn’t believe he is telling lies, but it didn’t happen. I believe John Dooley believes 100 per cent what he’s saying, it’s not out of malice or out to get anybody,” she said.

Tribunal counsel Anthony Barr SC asked about Det Garda Dooley’s statement that he held up postmortem photographs to Ms Brolly. Garda Gallagher said it did not happen.

Mr Barr asked why three people – Ms Brolly, Det Garda Dooley and Det Sgt White – all said it happened. Garda Gallagher replied: “I have no idea.”

She agreed there was probably bad language as it happened every day. Another claim that lights were switched on and off were also denied by Garda Gallagher. She also did not recall any remarks about Ms Brolly being told her children would be taken away from her.

“What I said was the truth,” she said. “While I was there, there was no mistreatment.”

The tribunal chairman, Mr Justice Frederick Morris, asked: “Why do you think Det Garda Dooley is imagining all this?” Garda Gallagher replied that she did not know.

She was not suggesting that his recent illness had anything to do with it, but maybe it did.

The chairman asked if she had any theory of her own.

“My honest feeling is it happened at another interview as I know it didn’t happen in the one I was in,” she said.

Senior garda in dramatic reverse of evidence

A Garda broke and changed his story. Up until now John White has denied mistreating two women while they were in custody. He has withdrawn his denial. This follows John Dooley’s breaking last week. If White lied about this, did he also lie about the McBreartys? He is also blaming his superiors for the way suspects were treated. White did not admit to all the claims made by the two women.

It is also alleged, amongst other things, that Detective Sargeant White paid a man £200 to stay in a McBrearty’s bar late in order for the Gardai to prosecute.

A senior Co Donegal garda has dramatically changed his evidence to the Morris tribunal by admitting for the first time that he mistreated suspects during interviews.

In an unexpected turn of events, Det Sgt John White faxed a new statement to the tribunal last Saturday in which he reversed earlier denials that he mistreated two women interviewees, Ra³isa­n McConnell and Katrina Brolly, in December 1996.

Ms McConnell and Ms Brolly, who were interrogated at Letterkenny Garda station during the Garda investigation into the death of cattle-dealer Richie Barron, allege that they were abused and assaulted.

Sgt White denied the allegations when investigated by the Garda Complaints Board in 1998 and he had continued to reject them in his contact with the tribunal until now.

Sgt White’s new statement emerged at yesterday’s sitting of the tribunal. Paul McDermott SC, for the tribunal, said it was an important development which had enormous significance for the evidence the tribunal was about to hear.

The women allege:

Katrina Brolly said she had her hair pulled out and was subjected to crude sexual references during her 12-hour detention at Letterkenny Garda station in December 1996. Ms Brolly broke down in the witness-box at one point as she recalled how gardaa­ threatened to put her children into care.

The tribunal yesterday began hearings into the detention of 12 people, starting with Ms Brolly, who were detained during the investigation of Mr Barron’s death. Gardaa­ at the time treated the death as a murder investigation, while the tribunal has since determined that he probably died in a hit-and-run accident.

Ms Brolly told the tribunal that Garda John Dooley and Det Sgt John White both called her a “lying bastard” and used a lot of bad language. However, she agreed that none of the interviewing gardaa­ had subjected her to pushing or shoving or to any other physical contact.

She was arrested after travelling to Letterkenny to visit her sister, Ra³isa­n McConnell, who had been arrested earlier. Between about 8pm and 8am, she was interrogated by a number of gardaa­ in separate interviews. At one point, her husband, Eunan, came to visit her, but she said Det Sgt White told him “that lying bastard is getting no visitors”. At various times, different gardaa­ told her she would spend seven or 14 years in jail unless she confessed, while another garda said she would be minding Ms McConnell’s children when she was jailed.

She said Garda Joan Gallagher gave her hair “a good sharp pull” on two occasions.
Ms Brolly said she believed her hair had been pulled out, but she acknowledged that she did not see any hair on the floor. Garda Gallagher was behind her and the lights had been dimmed.

She was told “Richie Barron will be back to haunt you tonight”, to which Ms Brolly replied: “I wish to God he would and he’d tell us what happened.”

At one point, Garda Dooley told her she was too comfortable and ordered her to stand up. Her seat was pushed away and photos of Mr Barron’s body were thrust in her face. She said the photos showed wounds on Mr Barron’s face and hand, but she blanked them out.

Garda Dooley took a slip of paper from his back pocket and asked if she knew the name of the person named on it. When she said she did, he replied: “Did you know that Mark McConnell [her brother-in-law] is riding her?”

Ms Brolly said she told the gardaa­ she did not believe what they were telling her. She said she was totally shocked at what happened. She had stood up for herself on the night but said after she got out “I totally went to bits”.

Asked if she had considered making a false confession to end the ordeal, she said: “I was always brought up to tell the truth. There was no way I was going to tell lies just to save myself.”

Because of the nature of the Tribunal process, we are unlikely to see any criminal prosecutions relating to this.

McDowell tells of 'grave concern' at allegations

Amidst all the hoopla of McDowell’s outburst, the news of allegations made against members of the Gardai went almost unnoticed. McDowell says he’s concerned.

“The allegations and indeed other allegations contained in the opening statement – if true – raise issues which can only be described as shocking about abuse and ill-treatment of persons in custody, deliberate violation of a detainee’s right of access to and privacy of communications with a solicitor, and gross abuses of constitutional rights of individuals.”

He said: “These issues have profound implications for our legal system and strike at the very heart of the democratic principles on which this State is founded. The people of Ireland, through Dail and Seanad a‰ireann, have charged the honourable Mr Justice Morris with the important and difficult task of getting to the truth of these matters. It is vitally important that everyone involved understand the importance of getting to the absolute truth. Let there be no doubt that it is the solemn duty of all those involved to assist the tribunal in whatever way they can and I reiterate and fully support its call this morning for that assistance.”

But what is he doing about it?

Donegal garda says witnesses abused in custody

It looks like a Garda has finally cracked. He is essentially backed up the story of two women questioned in relation to the death of Richie Barron in Donegal. John Dooley has admitted to the Morris Tribunal that the women were mistreated in Garda custody, a charge that the other Gardai alleged to be involved Detective Sergeant John White and Garda Joan Gallagher both deny.

Paul McDermott SC told the inquiry Mrs McConnell made serious allegations against Garda Dooley and Det Sgt John White in 2002, but it is only now the claims have been admitted.

Mr McDermott said: “For close to nine years the gardaa­ who were the subject of these allegations strenuously denied them. This has now changed.”

“If it is true, Mrs McConnell and Mrs Brolly have been the subject of the most dreadful treatment whilst in detention and a most scandalous cover up by the gardaa­ involved,” Mr McDermott said.

“If it is true, it also marks a significant breaking away from the culture of lies and deceit and the unwillingness to reveal a truth adverse to a colleague that has been an unfortunate feature of this inquiry. That would be a very positive and commendable development.”

RTE reports here.

Whistle blowers beware

Surprise and puzzlement has been expressed at the revelation that the Morris Tribunal spent an estimated €250,000 of taxpayer’s money trying to obtain information they already had for two years.

Labour TD, Brendan Howlin, was dragged through the High Court and the Supreme Court in an effort to force him to reveal his source on alleged police corruption in Donegal. Turns out that the whistle blower, Martin Giblin SC had informed the tribunal over two years ago that he was the source.

Of course, there is nothing surprising or puzzling about these events, Indeed, the message is crystal clear – Any peasant citizen out there who might even be considering an act of whistle blowing will be pursued by the full forces of the State until he/she is exposed and dealt with accordingly.

Ah, come on, I hear you say, that’s a bit over the top. The State is not going to target innocent citizens in order to protect itself against possible revelations of corruption. Really? Ask Frank Connolly.

Suspended garda begins challenge to tribunal

Latest from the Morris Tribunal:

The detective wants the module deferred until a criminal trial in which he is being prosecuted is completed. He denies the charge and all allegations against him.

The move follows a judgment last Friday by tribunal chairman Mr Justice Frederick Morris refusing the detective’s application to adjourn the module.

The chairman ruled that the module should proceed in private as a public hearing could prejudice Sgt White’s criminal trial. He said the evidence would cover the same issues as those to be heard in the trial.

The chairman said he was not satisfied that it was in the interests of justice or necessary to protect the right of Sgt White to a fair trial to grant an adjournment until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

He said the legal cases could go on for some time, particularly if they were appealed. It was now more than four years since Sgt White was charged. Delays had already taken place in the hearing of the trial and there was a realistic danger that it could be some years before it came to a hearing, if ever.