Wednesday 21 February 2018

MacLochlainn Inquiry: Garda contradicts previous from colleague

Ronan Mac Lochlainn
Ronan Mac Lochlainn

Clodagh Sheehy

A garda who pulled a dying Real IRA man from a car today contradicted other garda witness versions of what happened at the scene of the fatal shooting.

The unnamed member of the National Surveillance Unit said he had pulled Ronan MacLochlainn from a hijacked car on his own and laid him on the ground.

Mr MacLochlainn (28) from Ballymun, a member of the Real IRA, 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.

Previous evidence to the MacLochlainn Commission of Inquiry by two other gardai was that they had pulled Mr MacLochlainn from the car after a violent struggle.

The NSU member giving evidence today described driving into the scene of the robbery and being confronted by a man wearing a balaclava, driving towards him, with a gun in his right hand out the driver’s window.

The Garda, only identified as DG41, said he could see the green Mazda car coming towards him “bumping and hopping” along the grass verge.

He said he first noticed the man was wearing a balaclava and then saw the gun.  “The gun was pointed towards me.”

The two cars had then collided.  He did not recall that it was a strong impact.  He could not recall how he get out of his car.

He went towards the Mazda, opened the door and “I took the driver out of the car.  I pulled him out onto the ground.

The Garda said his memory was that he was on his own and had probably pulled Mr MacLochlainn out of the car head first and laid him on the ground.

As he did that other members of the Gardai arrived on the scene and he left to help search a wooded area to the left.

Six men armed with a sawn off shotgun, magnum revolver and an assault rifle attempted the robbery at an area known as Cullenmore Bends.

Gardai fired 12 shots at the scene but none of the gang members fired any shots.

DG41, said he had been in a car behind DS06 - the garda identified by the Force as the one who fired the fatal shot.

DG41 said although he was in a car behind him on the day he could not recall seeing him at the scene and did not hear any shots being fired.  He knew they had been but he did not hear them.

The Garda also described how he had used his car to drive a handcuffed prisoner from the scene to Shankill Garda Station.

Asked if had any concern about moving a car from the scene of a fatal shooting, responded, “at the time no because it was a very fluid situation.”

“The nature of our activity is to get in and out, you don’t leave anything behind. Its unfortunate what happened, happened.”

He could not even remember how he knew the people who handed the prisoner to him to transport were members of the Gardai, apart from the fact that the prisoner was handcuffed.

It was unusual, he accepted, for an NSU car to transport a prisoner.

A previous unnamed garda  witness, identified as  DS01,  described being on surveillance in the carpark of Heuston railway station in Dublin about a week before the attempted robbery and seeing Ronan MacLochlainn come into the park as a passenger in a beige Carina car.

Mr MacLochlainn, he said, had put on gloves, gone over to a parked white van and taken a sports bag from the van. Three men then left in the Carina.

The witness also told how on the same night he put a tracking device on both the white van and a blue van which was also under surveillance in the car park.

He also gave evidence that Pascal Burke - one of those convicted - had been identified by surveillance teams as travelling with Ronan MacLochlainn to the Ashford area  about a fortnight before the robbery.

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