RTE journalist recalls 'chaos' at scene of fatal shooting of Real IRA man Ronan MacLochlainn - inquiry
RTE journalist Valerie Cox who arrived the scene of the fatal shooting of Real IRA man Ronan MacLochlainn by accident, has described the 'chaos' to the MacLochlainn Commission of Inquiry.
Ms Cox said she was on her way to Dublin when her car got stuck in traffic and she thought there had been a crash.
She got out of her car with her tape recorder and walked towards the scene where she saw a body on the road covered by tarpaulin.
Ronan MacLochlainn (28) from Ballymun, was shot dead by Gardai during a botched armed robbery at Cullenmore Bends near Ashford, Co Wicklow on May 1st 1998.
“When I got there there was total chaos, very few Gardai. There were young people in red vests.
"Some of them were smoking which I thought was very odd," she added.
She thought these people in the vests were trainee gardai but it later emerged these were members of the National Surveillance Unit.
Ms Cox said she saw a car in the ditch and thought that was part of the accident.
As she got closer, however “I did see there was a body on the ground” under “what looked like blue tarpaulin”.
It was at that point she “realised it wasn’t an accident”.
She had immediately contacted RTE to alert them as she was working for the Five Seven Live programme at the time and this was in the middle of that programme.
Ms Cox said “there were a lot of motorists at the scene. People were very upset and running around the place.
“There was very little direction”.
She remembered some Gardai trying to organise things and divert civilians from the scene.
She said she had reported live from the scene and had then gone to two hotels in the area where people from the accident had been directed but people were quite reluctant to talk.
She had not seen anyone in balaclavas or any prisoners arrested at the scene.
Ms Cox, who lived near the area of the shooting at the time, has recently returned from a personal humanitarian visit to Kos in Greece with her husband Brian and has also just launched her book “The Family Courts” on family law cases in Ireland.