Wednesday 20 November 2019

Pictured: Moment convicted murderer asks former justice minister to sign his book

Exclusive: Malcolm Macarthur spoke with Alan Shatter at a book launch in Dublin last night

Liam Collins

Liam Collins

NOTORIOUS killer Malcolm Macarthur mingled with politicians and members of the legal fraternity at the launch of former justice minister Alan Shatter’s memoir.

At one point the white-haired Macarthur, who went largely unnoticed in the gathering, stood just feet from the current Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, who was among the guests at the launch of ‘Life is a Funny Business’ in Hodges Figgis bookshop on Dawson Street.

Malcolm Macarthur in Hodges Figgis
Malcolm Macarthur in Hodges Figgis

“I have an absolute regard for him, he knows the law,” Macarthur said after he had queued to have the book signed by Mr Shatter.

“I introduced myself to him, he didn’t know who I was,” Macarthur added.

Dressed casually in a white linen jacket and slacks, Macarthur appeared at home among the gathering, which was launched by former High Court Judge, Bryan McMahon.

Macarthur (inset) was convicted in August, 1982 of the brutal murder of nurse Bridie Gargan, who he bludgeoned to death when he was stealing her car in the Phoenix Park.

Malcolm Macarthur in Hodges Figgis
Malcolm Macarthur in Hodges Figgis

He also killed Donal Dunne, who he had arranged to meet to buy a shotgun, before taking the gun and turning it on the Offaly farmer, shooting him dead.

After a nationwide manhunt Macarthur was arrested in the home of the then attorney general Paddy Connolly in Dalkey, south Dublin.

Events surrounding the murder and the discovery of Macarthur were infamously dubbed grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented (GUBU).

It also led to the resignation of the attorney general and almost brought down the government of the then-Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

It led to serious questions about the conduct of the trial after the State failed to prosecute the case of Donal Dunne and the judge passed a life sentence without hearing any evidence into the circumstances surrounding the bizarre events which gained international publicity.

It was revealed last year that the former AG, Mr Connolly, who returned to a lucrative practise at the Irish Bar, left a substantial sum of money to Macarthur’s son, Colin Little, and his mother Brenda, in his will.

Alan Shatter with his wife Carol & Minister Charlie Flanagan at the launch of his new book,
Alan Shatter with his wife Carol & Minister Charlie Flanagan at the launch of his new book, "Life Is a Funny Business" at Hodges Figgis. Picture Fergal Phillips

Last night Macarthur said that he “loved books” but was particularly interested in Mr Shatter’s memoir.

When asked if it was because he was released when he was justice minister, Macarthur replied, “yes” and added, “he knew the law”. 

Mr Macarthur said that he sometimes visited the bookshop, but again insisted that he could not talk publicly because of the conditions of his release from prison. When Mr Shatter approved his release from prison in 2012 he said he was “at all times conscious of the dreadful events of 1982 and their impact on family members” of Macarthur’s victims.

After speeches by Mr Shatter and former High Court Judge Bryan McMahon, who launched the book, Macarthur continued to mingle with the large gathering, which included Newstalk presenter and crime journalist Paul Williams, Fine Gael politicians Catherine Noone and Frankie Feighan, former Fianna Fáil minister Tom Kitt and comedian Oliver Callan.

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