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Saturday 25 November 2017

Gardai 'would take same action today as they did during robbery that killed Real IRA member MacLochlainn'

Ronan Mac Lochlainn
Ronan Mac Lochlainn

Clodagh Sheehy

Gardai would take exactly the same action today as they did during a robbery in which Real IRA member Ronan MacLochlainn was shot dead, a member of the Garda National Surveillance Unit said today.

The member, identified as DS01 was giving evidence to the MacLochlainn Commission of Inquiry into Mr MacLochlainn’s death.

Mr MacLochlainn (28) from Ballymun, was shot dead by Gardai during the armed robbery of a Securicor Van just outside Ashford, Co Wicklow on May 1st 1998. He died at the scene.

The garda giving evidence said: “If I had to do the same job today I would do exactly the same thing”.

He said An Garda Siochana regretted the fact that Mr MacLochlainn died that died and they had done their best to revive him.

The garda explained that the event on May 1st had been an intelligence gathering operation with the NSU trailing two vans known to be used by the Real IRA.

Up to the time the Real IRA blocked the road outside Ashford with one of the vans it was an intelligence operation but at that point there had to be an intervention.

DS01 said the NSU had no intelligence on what the vans were likely to do that day.

He had assumed they were involved in moving explosives as he had been involved in several other similar operations where explosives were transported.

The garda described driving to Ashford that day and near the Cullenmore bends outside Ashford, he had passed the blue van parked on the right hand side of the road facing north.

It was off the edge of the road, not blocking traffic, with two men in boiler suits beside it.

The Commission has previously heard that tracking devices were fitted on a blue and on a white van parked in Heuston railway station in Dublin in the days leading up to the attempted robbery.

DSO1 had driven past the scene and parked up in a yard on the far side of Ashford where word came through on the radio that the Real IRA had blocked the road with the blue van, a robbery was taking place and weapons were being pointed.

He said he had driven towards the scene, had to stop his car because of traffic and as he ran around the corner to the scene with his revolver in his hand “the first thing I observed was red Laguna car crashed.” He also saw a beige Carina in the ditch.

He noticed a colleague with civilians “crouched down on the left hand side. There was a lot of shouting.  I saw an IRA man coming out of the bushes and being arrested on my right.

“I could seen a person lying on the road who I subsequently found out was the deceased Ronan MacLochlainn."

DS01 told the Inquiry he could not find any documents relating to 1998 but had found floppy discs of surveillance reports.  It was likely, he explained, that the documents had been shredded.

Under cross examination from Hugh Hartnett SC for the MacLochlainn family, he said he could not say what documents, if any had been shredded or when.

Mr Hartnett had asked about a book of notations which would give details of times and places of electronic surveillance which DS01 said could not be found.

He was also  asked about a video from the plane that was above the scene.

The Garda witness said there were documents showing that a video had been taken from the plane by a garda from the NSU but in relation to the video itself “I havent been able to find it yet”.

CCTV footage from Heuston station carpark could not be found either.

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