McBrearty abuse video fuels scandal
McBrearty abuse video fuels scandal

The 26-County government will consider dismissing senior members of the Garda police criticised in the second report of the Morris tribunal, according to its Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell.

The report found that Gardai had fabricated evidence to frame Donegal man Frank McBrearty Jr for murder, and subsequently lied to cover up their crimes and other failings.

Evidence emerged this week that Mr McBrearty was the subject of serious physical abuse while at Raphoe Garda station in Donegal.

Video footage, filmed by a member of the gardai and obtained by TV3 News, showed the young Donegal man being dragged by two Gardai along the floor.

However, Mr McBrearty said that a garda source told him the video had been edited and “worse things had happened”.

He said: “I was burned by cigarettes and a garda walked on my back and head. That was taken out of the video.”

Mr McBrearty said the Gardai shouted at him that they no longer needed a confession as they had ‘other evidence’.

“I prayed to God to take me away from this hell that I was in and that when I was dead my family would have peace of mind,” he said.

However, McDowell has rebuffed calls for a police Ombudsman and rejected charges that reform of the Garda Siochana was too slow.

The Minister also described the Garda police chief, Commissioner Noel Conroy, as “a man of transcendent honesty and modesty”, who had been unfairly attacked. “I have the highest regard for him and the greatest confidence in him,” said the Minister.

Commissioner Conroy is increasingly the subject of controversy after it emerged that he had stated publicly that the original Garda investigation into the matter -- found to be “prejudiced, tendentious and utterly negligent in the highest degree” by Justice Morris -- was ‘thorough and efficient’.

Morris found that the Gardai investigating the hit-and-run death of Richie Barron became “consumed” by the idea that Mr McBrearty was responsible, and constructed a case using the inventions of a bogus IRA ‘informer’.

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Aengus O Snodaigh TD called for the Tribunal’s terms of reference to be widened to include examination of the respective roles of the Attorney General, the Garda Commissioner and the Department of Justice, including the Ministers for Justice.

“All involved at every level in this scandal should be relieved of duty,” he said. “The case files of Gardai involved in misconduct should be subject to review by a new Garda Ombudsman.”

Mr O Snodaigh said there were big question marks over the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell.

“He opposed a public inquiry into this case in 1997 when he was Attorney General,” he said.

“He has blocked a public inquiry into a similar case, the James Sheehan case in Kerry involving allegations of Gardai planting a firearm and destroying evidence in an attempt to damage the credibility of an election candidate.

“He has also said he will not publish the findings of the reinvestigation into the assassination of Donegal Councillor Eddie Fullerton, despite the strong evidence of British collusion and mishandling of the original investigation by the same Gardai under investigation by the Morris Tribunal.”

Sinn Féin is demanding reforms consistent with the Patten model in the North, including a single Garda Ombudsman, a Garda Board, and Community Policing Partnerships at District level.

“If nothing else, the Good Friday Agreement human rights equivalence guarantees should result in a single Garda Ombudsman along the lines of the role of Nuala O’Loan instead of the Minister’s deeply flawed proposal for an Ombudsman Commission - a model which is supported by nobody but him,” said Mr O Snodaigh.

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