Commisioner in charge of the MacLochlainn Inquiry offers sympathies to An Garda Siochana on the death of Garda Tony Golden
The Commisioner in charge of the MacLochlainn Inquiry today offered her sympathies to An Garda Siochana on the death of Garda Tony Golden who was shot dead in Omeath, Co Louth yesterday.
Mary Rose Gearty SC took time out at the opening of today’s proceedings to offer sympathy to Det Chief Supt Peter Kirwan for the “very sad series of events over the weekend.
“I am very conscious of the position you are in and coming in here today to give evidence”, she added.
The Inquiry is examining the circumstances surrounding the death of Ronan MacLochlainn (28) from Ballymun, who was shot dead by Gardai during a botched armed robbery at Cullenmore Bends near Ashford, Co Wicklow on May 1st 1998.
Det Chief Supt Peter Kirwan, who is in charge of the Garda Security and Intelligence Division, told the Inquiry today that, looking back, the preservation of the scene at the time was “far less than ideal”.
“Today there would be a much more regimental view taken of holding the scene”, he added.
He did not know the specifics of the scene at Ashford on the day “but by way of general comment there would be much more emphasis today on preserving every aspect of the scene”
He stressed, however, that the incident that day was “in a way unprecedented” in that Gardai had taken a day off sick from work and the same local infrastructure was not available.
The Ashford shooting took place on a Garda “blue flu” protest day.
The MacLochlainn family were not present at today's hearing.
The Security and Intelligence boss was also asked if any protocols were put in place immediately after the incident in Ashford on the joint role of the National Surveillance Unit and the Emergency Response Unit.
He responded that he was not aware of any assessment at the time of the combined role of the NSU and the ERU
A series of protocols was devised in 2002, he said, after the death of a member of the NSU in an incident in the Midlands in 2001.
Asked by Commissioner Gearty if the Garda Sergeant who died in the Midlands incident was the same one who had fired the fatal shot in Ashford three and a half years previously, Det Chief Supt Kirwan confirmed that it was.
He explained that the 2002 protocols gave very specific guidelines but could not be rigid and had to incorporate a significant degree of personal judgement.
“This is a risky business and each person at the scene is at risk.”
Describing surveillance of the six gang members in the weeks leading up to the shooting, Mr Kirwan said the people involved in the robbery had been the subject of Garda attention “to varying degrees over a number of years.
“Some of them had significant convictions”. They had proven track records of being involved in pretty serious incidents,” he added.
The MacLochlainn family who normally attend the public sessions of the Inquiry were not present at today’s hearing.