Gardaí who misled Tribunal still serving

Sgt Murray was neither "truthful" nor "conscientious". Garda Leonard gave evidence "in an effort to mislead the Tribunal". Garda Anderson failed to tell "unbridled truth". All three are still serving with the force. By Vincent Browne

At least three gardaí who were found not to have told the whole truth in their evidence under oath to the Morris Tribunal are still serving with An Garda Síochána. One of these was said by the Tribunal to be neither truthful nor conscientious. Another was found to have given evidence in an effort to mislead the Tribunal and the third was found to have failed to tell "the unbridled truth". The gardaí are Sergeant Michael Murray, Garda Martin Leonard, who has also been prominent in the Garda Representative Association, and Detective Garda Martin Anderson.

The continued presence of the persons within An Garda Síochána has been confirmed by the Garda press office and was recently acknowledged by the Deputy Commissioner of the Garda, Peter Fitzgerald.

In his report on the "explosives module" of the Tribunal, Mr Justice Morris said of Sergeant Murray that it rejected his evidence in relation to a find of explosives at the flat of Adrienne McGlinchey, who was represented by Murray as a Provisional IRA informer, in Buncrana, Co Donegal on 14 March, 1994. He further found that Sergeant Murray, along with other gardaí, now no longer serving, "withheld vital information in relation to this search from the Tribunal". He found Murray's evidence "lacked candour and credibility"; that Murray and the other gardaí involved conveyed information concerning that search that "was calculated to deceive other members of An Garda Siochana" (at paragraph 7.85 in the report).

The Tribunal further rejected Sergeant Murray's evidence on his dealings with members of the Forensic Science Laboratory and said that he "ensured no proper forensic science test of samples (taken from the flat of Adrienne McGlinchey) took place" (paragraph 7.93). The Tribunal's report continues (at paragraph 7.94): "Sergeant Murray was anxious to present himself to the Tribunal as both a truthful witness and as a member of An Garda Síochána who carried out his duties in a conscientious manner. The Tribunal is satisfied that he was neither."

The report said it was never the intention of Sergeant Murray and of other gardaí, now not serving, that "a proper investigation file would be prepared in respect of this search" (that of 14 March, 1994). It said the search of Ms McGlinchey's flat was conceived, by Sergeant Murray and others, "as a charade" (paragraph 7.114).

In a further comment on Sergeant Murray and other gardaí not now serving, the Tribunal said it was satisfied they had "withheld vital information from the Tribunal in relation to this find and their handling of it and that their testimony in respect of these events is not credible" (paragraph 7.145).

On Garda Martin Leonard, the Tribunal said he, along with Garda Noel McMahon, who was subsequently dismissed from An Garda Siochana, "conspired" to frustrate "the legitimate enquiries being conducted by the Carty investigation team (the gardaí involved in the first investigation into allegations of Garda misconduct in Donegal, under Assistant Commissioner, Kieran Carty). It found Garda Leonard "completely abused his position as a member of An Garda Síochána and acted in a manner that was completely at variance with the legitimate interests of the Garda Representative Association of which he was a prominent member in the (Donegal) division" (paragraph 11.29).

This "conspiracy" between Detective Garda McMahon and Garda Leonard was to persuade the estranged wife of Noel McMahon, Sheenagh McMahon, to withdraw a statement she had made to the Carty inquiry in which she alleged that her husband and another garda, Inspector Kevin Lennon, had engaged in a series of improprieties.

Garda Leonard intervened to assist Noel McMahon when McMahon was being interviewed by the Carty inquiry team. The Tribunal report notes: "Detective Garda McMahon was pleased his GRA representative (Martin Leonard) had acted to suppress the truth. This is not the role that the GRA is mandated to pursue" (paragraph 11.31).

In the course of his evidence to the Tribunal, Garda Martin Leonard gave an insight into the culture of An Garda Síochána as he saw it. He said, on Day 80 of the hearings: "When an examination of an investigation is done like this within An Garda Síochána there was no tribunal following on. It is the nature of the gardaí, we don't name the names, we don't want to get anybody into trouble in the Garda Síochána internal matters… We try our best to make sure – we are not going to be hanging our people" (paragraph 12.117).

In a comment on this evidence, the Tribunal noted "the 'don't hang your own' ethic identified by Garda Martin Leonard". It said: "It is unsupportable that a minority of members of An Garda Síochána should be entitled to stymie any legitimate investigation carried out by their employer, in this instance, the former Commissioner, Mr Patrick Byrne, into any aspect of behavior of a member of An Garda Siochana. It is also completely unacceptable that any individual member of the Garda Representative Association should see itself as mandated to prevent the uncovering of the truth" (paragraph 13.105).

In its report, the Tribunal repeated the evidence of Garda Martin Leonard on the issue of Garda accountability (at paragraph 13.108).

Q. Do you think the Commissioner is entitled to send out a fact-finding mission?

A. The members would be entitled to know, in all fairness, what are the questions being asked.

Q. You heard me opening this [module in an opening statement].

A. No I did not.

Q. I opened this morning on the basis of saying: Donegal isn't an isolated island floating off Ireland, it is part of Ireland and Headquarters are entitled to know and should keep on top of what is happening in Donegal...

A. Yes, of course.

Q. ... So if the Garda Commissioner came down and said: I'm investigating A, B, C and D would you answer his questions?

A. Yes, if he would be asking specific questions. But he was not asking me...

Q. But if the answer to the question could have involved you in some kind of breach of discipline or some kind of breach of the criminal code you would say to the Garda Commissioner: no, I will not answer your questions?

A. But he would carry on an investigation...

Q. So he can carry out any investigation apart from asking the actual Garda apparently involved and you are happy with that. But if he asks the Garda apparently involved what were you doing at such-and-such a time in such-and-such a place – no cooperation?

A. If it is incriminating.

Q. No cooperation?

A. He does not have to respond.

Q. So the Garda Commissioner isn't entitled to a response?

A. Not within twenty-four hours.

Q. Ok, twenty-five hours, is he entitled to a response?

A. Then he has his response, yes.

Q. But if it is incriminating the member is entitled to say: I exercise my right to silence?

A. Yes.

Q. The ESB man?

A. I think it would be the same.

Q. You think?

A. Yes.

Q. You see no difference in terms of organising a police Force between the two, between organising an electricity supply and organising the supply of policing in a country?

A. I would say the rights of Garda would be paramount, the rights as far as I am concerned, that is what I am there for.

In a ruling on applications for costs, delivered last September, Mr Justice Morris made the following further observations on Garda Martin Leonard: "Garda Leonard gave evidence on three important issues… On none of these three issues is the Tribunal satisfied that the account given in the evidence by Garda Leonard represented the truth. I am satisfied his evidence was given in such a way as to mislead the Tribunal in relation to his actual motivation for taking the course that he did on each of these three important occasions. On each occasion, Garda Leonard attempted to portray the events as being innocent in character. For the reasons set out in the report, the Tribunal is satisfied that this was not the case. The Tribunal is satisfied that Garda Leonard gave evidence in an effort to mislead the Tribunal in relation to these three important events". He refused Garda Leonard's application for costs.

In respect of Detective Garda Martin Anderson, the Tribunal found he, along with other gardaí now no longer serving, "could have brought clarity to (the circumstances surrounding alleged explosive finds in Oatfield and Covehill in Donegal) by telling the unbridled truth. For their own reasons, which remain unclear to the Tribunal, they did not do so. This is inconsistent with any notion of the rule of law taking precedence over group loyalty" (paragraph 8.72).

Earlier in its report, also on the Oatfield "find" the Tribunal stated: "No member of An Garda Síochána on duty on the 4th, the 10th or the 13th of June 1994 (including Detective Garda Anderson) called before the Tribunal has given a satisfactory explanation of their involvement in respect of these events. The Tribunal is satisfied that most of them have withheld information from the Tribunal and failed and neglected to give a full and true account of what happened".

The Tribunal was also highly critical of a fourth garda still serving in the force, Garda Thomas Rattigan. The Tribunal acknowledged in its report that Garda Rattigan had suffered health problems which may have affected his recollection. Nevertheless it found: "Garda Rattigan has not told the full truth about his visit to this flat (that of Adrienne McGlinchey at Buncrana) and has, for whatever reason, withheld vital information in respect of it from the Tribunal" (paragraph 7.28).

Garda Rattigan was the first garda on the scene at the flat of Adrienne McGlinchey on 14 March 1994 and the first garda to observe the presence at the flat of what appeared to be explosives material. Instead of informing the Sergeant-in-charge at Buncrana Garda station which was nearby, he went to a phone box opposite the Garda station and phoned Detective Garda Noel McMahon. The Tribunal report noted Garda Rattigan did not know of Ms McGlinchey's status as an alleged informer and therefore had no reason not to alert his colleagues at Buncrana Garda station immediately and preserve the scene of the explosives (paragraph 7.33). The report states: "The Tribunal is satisfied that failure by Garda Rattigan to report the find to his colleagues and superior and to ensure that the premises was preserved constitutes a dereliction of duty on his part" (paragraph 7.36). It further observed: "No reason has been offered to the Tribunal as to why Garda Rattigan behaved in this manner" (paragraph 7.38).

Later, the report comments: "In relation to the find of materials at the flat of Ms McGlinchey and Ms Devine (a colleague and find of Adrienne McGlinchey) in The Crescent, Buncrana on the 14th March 1994, there was an appalling dereliction of duty by Garda Tom Rattigan in failing to preserve the scene and in failing to notify the Garda authorities of the existence of the find" (paragraph 12.42). It continued: "Garda Rattigan's conduct, which involved the abandonment of proper police procedure, was motivated by misguided loyalty on his part to a friend of long standing, Detective Garda McMahon" (paragraph 12.45).

On Wednesday, 13 April last, the Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Siochana, Peter Fitzgerald, gave a presentation to the Morris Tribunal on what follow-through there had been within An Garda Síochána to the findings of the first interim report of the Tribunal, on the "explosives module", published on 15 July 2004. The following exchange took place between Peter Charlton SC, counsel for the Tribunal and the Deputy Commissioner:

Peter Charlston SC: "The people of Ireland might be somewhat startled by the notion that people are still serving who have been criticised, who in respect of whom it has been said that without mitigating factors, such as an ongoing problem with organic depression or anything like that, that they are still serving in various areas and the people of Ireland again might reasonably say, well, the Garda Síochána have a real problem if they can't deal with that?"

Peter Fitzgerald: "Mr Chairman, I recognise and I accept what's been said and the Commissioner has accepted absolutely the findings of the Tribunal and in doing that has accepted all that has been said by the Tribunal, including what you have just said. And I can fully appreciate and understand that the people of Ireland would have difficulties in understanding why we can't deal with the problems as perceived. Nonetheless we can only deal with problems within the law and within the legislation as it is and within the rules as they are."

It is not clear what legal difficulties there would have been in dismissing, for instance, Sergeant Michael Murray, given the findings of the Tribunal, since three other Donegal gardaí were dismissed: Superintendent Kevin Lennon was dismissed on 5 October last, Garda Patrick Mulligan was dismissed on 6 January last and Detective Garda John O'Dowd was dismissed also on 6 January last.p