Saturday 18 November 2017

Public appeal for information into shooting of republican Ronan MacLochlainn

Ronan Mac Lochlainn
Ronan Mac Lochlainn

Clodagh Sheehy

The Commissioner in charge of the Inquiry into the fatal shooting of republican Ronan MacLochlainn has appealed to the public to come forward with information.

Mary Rose Gearty said a member the public had come forward last week and a meeting with this person had been “fruitful”.

She said she would like to make it clear to any member of the public who felt they had information  that they were welcome to come to the Commission.

Mr MacLochlainn (28), from Ballymun, was shot dead by Gardai during the course of a botched Real IRA robbery 17 years ago on May 1st 1998 - on a day of “blue flu” unofficial garda strike action.

The incident happened at an area known as the Cullenmore Bends near Ashford, Co Wicklow.

Ms Gearty said yesterday (Mon)  she had also received an affadavit from An Garda Siochana to the effect that members of the Force had searched every area related to the Inquiry  including Wicklow Garda Station.

They had “recovered everything of relevance to the Inquiry” and she was very grateful for this.

“It seems to be very thorough” she added saying she had not had time to look at the statement in detail but was going to pass it to the Inquiry legal team.

An un-redacted statement had gone to the legal team which would be “meaningful” for cross examination of witnesses in the future, she added.

Mr Philip Kelly, who was a Detective Superintendent in charge of the National Surveillance Unit at the time of the shooting described to yesterday’s hearing how he was in his office in the Phoenix Park on May 1st and in constant contact with the NSU which had the gang under surveillance.

Under questioning by Hugh Hartnett SC for Ms Nic Gibb, Mr Kelly said he had lost contact with the members of the unit as they entered Ashford.

Mr Kelly said he was on the phone to the Garda in charge on the ground and at the same time was listening to the garda radio.

Both signals were lost because of the terrain and he could not get in contact again until after the incident.

He also told how Mr MacLochlainn and another man came to their attention in the days before the incident when gardai had two vans at Heuston railway station under surveillance.

At one point the men left in a white van and later a blue van with the same registration returned to the station.

The Inquiry has already heard that none of the 21 members of the National Surveillance Unit (NSU) present on the day were interviewed until the Commission staff contacted them in recent months.

These NSU members were supported by 16 members of the Emergency Response Unit.

An inquest into Mr MacLochlainn’s death was told that 12 shots were fired by three gardai and one shot, which ricocheted off a car wing mirror hit Mr MacLochlainn who died at the scene.

None of the six men involved in the attempted robbery had fired a shot although a sawn off shotgun, magnum revolver and an assault rifle, all with live ammunition, were recovered from the scene.

The Commission was set up after Mr MacLochlainn’s partner Grainne Nic Gibb took a case against Ireland under the European Convention on Human Rights alleging failure on behalf of the State to carry out an effective official investigation into the shooting.

The Commission is seeking to establish whether or not the Gardai’s use of force on the day was proportionate and justified.

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