Criminal lawyer to head up probe into garda raid shooting
A criminal lawyer is to head up the special commission of investigation into the garda shooting of a dissident republican during a terrorist armed raid on a security van 16 years ago.
The investigation is to be completed within six months and the overall cost, excluding third-party expenses, is expected to be around €350,000.
Real IRA activist Ronan Mac Lochlainn was shot dead by gardai who foiled the attempt to hold up a Securicor van near Ashford, Co Wicklow, on May 1, 1998.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald told an Oireachtas justice committee meeting yesterday she had nominated an experienced criminal lawyer to act as the sole member of the commission and to enquire into:
* The circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Mac Lochlainn.
* All relevant garda matters including the policies, practices and control of the operation, which led to the shooting, and the training provided to personnel who were detailed for the garda operation.
A decision to set up the commission was taken by the Government after Mac Lochlainn's partner, Grainne Nic Gibb, took a case against Ireland under the European Convention of Human Rights, alleging a failure by the State to carry out an effective official investigation into the shooting, in accordance with the terms of article 2 of the convention.
Ms Fitzgerald said that during friendly settlement negotiations on the case, a commission was proposed as a means of ensuring the State's compliance with the convention but the negotiations broke down and the European Court struck out the case on the basis that a commission would meet Ireland's obligations.
An inquest held in 2009 returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
A six-man Real IRA gang had been under watch by members of the garda national surveillance unit. This culminated in an operation also involving members of the Emergency Response Unit and the Special Branch.
On the day, the gang was armed with an assault rifle, a pump action shotgun and revolver, an imitation rocket launcher and an angle grinder.
Initially the gardai did not know the gang's plans but then determined that it was likely to hold up the security van.
The fatal shot was fired from a Smith and Wesson special six-shot revolver.