Tuesday 20 August 2019

MacLochlainn Commission: Former Garda Commissioner 'was at the launch of a horse when he was told raiders had not exchanged fire'

Ronan Mac Lochlainn
Ronan Mac Lochlainn

Clodagh Sheehy

Former Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy described how he was at “the launch of a horse” when he was told raiders had not fired a single shot during an incident where gardai shot one of them dead.

He had previously been told there was an exchange of fire between the two sides.

Mr Conroy was giving evidence to the MacLochlainn Commission which is examining the fatal shooting of Real IRA member Ronan MacLochainn during an armed robbery by a six member gang near Ashford, Co Wicklow on May 1st 1998.

The former Commissioner said immediately after the event he had been told by Assistant Commissioner Dick Kelly that the man had died in an exchange of gunfire between Gardai and the gang.

He had contacted the Garda Press Office with the information and they issued a press release.

The following day Mr Conroy said he was a the launch of an additional horse for the Garda Mounted Unit when a ballistics expert came up to him and told him none of the raiders had fired any shots.

“It was clear we were wrong. Once we knew we were wrong it was for us to correct it as quickly as possible” and a correction press release as issued that afternoon.

Asked by Counsel for the family Hugh Hartnett about his view of the fact that some witnesses that day were not interviewed, Mr Conroy said “I would be concerned if people that were at the scene and witnessed something were not” asked for statements.

Paramedic Jimmy Clancy from Wicklow town Ambulance Service said when he arrived at the scene with colleague David Lynch they were told by gardai to lie on the ground because it was not safe.

A short time later they were allowed to go to the injured man lying on the road. “He wasn’t breathing”.

Mr Clancy said he got cardiac equipment from the ambulance and continued CPR until the doctor arrived and told them to stop.  In his evidence he said  he had noticed a silver gun near the handbrake in a car directly beside Mr MacLochlainn.

Mr Lynch said Mr MacLochlainn had been lying face down when he reached him.

Told by Inquiry Commissioner Mary Rose Gearty SC that other witnesses had said the injured man was lying on his back, Mr Lynch said  the statement he had made on May 2nd 1998 was 100pc accurate.

He outlined to the Inquiry how he had gently rolled Mr MacLochlainn onto his back so he could apply CPR.

Mr Lynch said as he worked on the injured man he was aware of a small wound in his chest “about the size of a 10c piece”.

The man was bleeding through this hole as they worked on the chest compressions With his colleague they had continued to apply CPR until the doctor arrived and declared Mr MacLochlainn dead.

The hearing continues.

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