Saturday 24 August 2019

Gardai 'taken unaware' by 'attempted robbery in which Real IRA member Ronan MacLochlainn was shot dead

Ronan MacLochlainn
Ronan MacLochlainn

Clodagh Sheehy

Gardai were “taken unaware” by an attempted robbery in which Real IRA member Ronan MacLochlainn was shot dead by a detective.

Retired Sergeant Gerry Walsh told the MacLochlainn Inquiry this was the impression he had from talking to gardai within minutes of arriving at the scene which was “chaotic”.

The Inquiry is examining the circumstances around the fatal shooting of Mr MacLochlainn (28) from Ballymun who died at the scene of the armed robbery by a six man gang near Ashford, Co Wicklow on May 1st 1998.

Mr Walsh said he knew the detective who had fired the fatal shot personally - identified as DS06 - but had not seen him there.

He said he had been driving a patrol car that day because of the Garda Blue Flu action and had arrived at the scene within 10 minutes of a call from Garda Control that a robbery was taking place.

“When I got to the scene my initial reaction was to divert traffic.”

Mr Walsh recalled seeing Mr MacLochlainn being attended to by medical personnel and seeing a silver coloured revolver in the footwell of the car he had hijacked.

Retired Chief Superintendent Michael Murphy was in charge of the Garda Wicklow-Wexford Division in which the incident happened at the time.

He told the Inquiry that despite knowing DS06  “very well” he was not aware that he had fired the fatal shot until recently.

Asked by Hugh Hartnett SC for the MacLochlainn family if it  “surprised” him to hear the identity of this man, Mr Murphy replied: “it does in that I didn’t know he was present there at all”.

He had only found out who fired the fatal shot  “when I received a report from somebody very recently.”

Asked if he was sure he had not heard about the shooting by DS06 in the intervening years he added: “I think I would remember if I was told because I knew him very well”.

Mr Murphy said he had been told when arrived at the scene that shots had been fired by Inspector John Gantly and Detective Superintendent Pat Hogan but not by DS06.

Asked about gardai driving cars away from the scene, Mr Murphy said he had not been aware of this but had only arrived in Ashford two and a half hours after the incident as he had driven from Kilmore Quay.

Mr Murphy said that he had no role in the subsequent investigation but if he had he would have “wanted to know the reason why the cars left the scene”

He stressed, however, there could be a good reason for moving cars “in a combat situation like this” and it might be necessary to “get prisoners out of there as quickly as possible”.

The Inquiry has heard that car driven by DS06 was driven away from the scene to transport prisoners.

The hearing continues

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