Wednesday 13 December 2017

Garda Commissioner who led inquiry into tapping of journalists' phones dies

Lawrence Wren, former garda commissioner
Lawrence Wren, former garda commissioner
Lawrence Wren, former garda commissioner

Jane O'Faherty

The former Garda Commissioner who led the inquiry into the tapping of journalists' phones in the 1980s has died.

Laurence 'Larry' Wren served as head of An Garda Síochána from February 1983 to November 1987.

He died peacefully in his home in Castleknock, Co Dublin, on Wednesday.

Mr Wren was given the top role in the force shortly after conducting the phone tapping inquiry.

The investigation was prompted after it was revealed the phones of journalists were tapped on the orders of the then Minister for Justice, Seán Doherty.

Minister Doherty had signed warrants to access the phones of Geraldine Kennedy and Bruce Arnold.

At the time, Mr Wren found that neither of them had been connected with criminal or subversive activities, and that the warrants would not have come from gardaí.

The findings eventually led to the resignation of Minister Doherty, as well as Charlie Haughey almost a decade later.

As Commissioner, he also criticised the handling of the Kerry babies case over 30 years ago, which investigated the murder of an infant whose body was washed ashore near Cahirciveen, Co Kerry.

State papers released last year revealed Mr Wren thought gardaí investigating the case had been "grossly negligent" in carrying out their duties.

Previously, he had also been involved in the investigation into the 1974 Dublin bombings.

He is survived by his wife Maureen Lee and daughters Mary and Anne.

His funeral mass takes place at St Brigid's Church in Blanchardstown on Monday at noon, with burial at Derrockstown Cemetery, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, afterwards.

Irish Independent

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