Government criticised over Barr inaction

  • 18 October 2006
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Despite two 'seiges' since the Barr report on John Carthy's death at Abbeylara was published in July, the government has no plans to discuss it in the Dáil. By Justine McCarthy

The solicitor representing the family of the late John Carthy, whom gardaí shot dead in Abbeylara six years ago, has criticised the Dáil's delay in arranging to debate the Barr report on the killing.

Judge Robert Barr's 740-page tribunal report, which criticised Garda negligence and bungling during the 25-hour 'siege' that culminated in John Carthy's death, was delivered to the clerk of the Dáil on 20 July, while TDs were on their summer holidays. Three months later, however, neither the government whip's office nor the Oireachtas committee on Justice, Equality and Law Reform has so much as pencilled in a date to ventilate the report.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, which established the tribunal, said there were no plans as yet for a debate, either in the Dáil chamber or at committee level.

"When the report came out in July, most politicians reacted with a desire to discuss it once the Dáil resumed business," says solicitor Peter Mullan. "There have been two other sieges since Barr. It is critical that the report is discussed as soon as possible so that actions can be implemented to ensure that the mistakes made at Abbeylara are not repeated.

"The failure to date to debate Barr represents a disservice to Mr Justice Barr and his team and indeed to the Irish public," he said. "Critically, it's a matter of grave disappointment to John Carthy's family, who have spent more than six years looking for answers and an exposure of the truth. It's essential, now that we have got those answers, that there is action from the highest level. The Barr report deserves a full debate in government time and at the earliest possible date."

During four working days early this month, the Dáil chamber shut down temporarily on three separate occasions due to lack of business to occupy TDs. Despite opposition harrying of the government before the summer recess on a glut of overdue inquiry reports, the Garda Commissioner's private apology to the Carthys in August, following the release of the €18m report, has not merited a mention since the Dáil re-commenced.

Curiously, the five reports of the Morris tribunal on Garda corruption and misconduct in Donegal have met the same wall of silence in Leinster House. Those reports, estimated to cost the taxpayer €26m, have excoriated gardai for their behaviour in Donegal, including planting explosives and attempting to frame citizens.

? More See interview with John Carthy's sister, Marie, on page 18