Monday 19 March 2018

Real IRA member 'was killed by a bullet fired by a detective sergeant from a moving car' - MacLochalainn Commission

Ronan Mac Lochlainn
Ronan Mac Lochlainn

Clodagh Sheehy

Real IRA member Ronan MacLochlainn was killed by a bullet, fired by a detective sergeant from the Garda National Surveillance Unit from a moving car, the MacLochalainn Commission has been told.

Ronan MacLochlainn (28) from Ballymun, a member of the Real IRA, was shot during a botched armed robbery at Cullenmore Bends near Ashford, Co Wicklow on May 1st 1998.

The Inquiry also heard that the ERU detective sergeant who shot Mr MacLochlainn had since been killed himself during a garda operation four years later.

Detective Sergeant Michael Shanahan from the Garda National Surveillance Unit gave evidence of talking to Mr MacLochlainn as he sat on the road near a hi-jacked car after the attempted robbery.

“I asked him his name. His shirt was open or may have been off. There was a slight smudging of blood on his chest.”

“I asked him if he had any other injury. He said he had a chest injury. I looked back and front and I said ‘I don’t see any’.  I said I’m getting you medical assistance.”

Within seconds Mr MacLochlainn “just sort of fell over on the road” and at that point “people seemed to arrive” and they had a medical bag.

Det Sgt Shanahan said he recalled a green Mazda driving by as he was with Mr MacLochlainn.

Commissioner Mary Rose Gearty questioned Det Sgt Shanahan’s recollection saying  as she understood it was an NSU detective sergeant identified as DS06, who was in the passing car, actually fired the fatal shot from his car as it was moving.

She questioned how Mr MacLochlainn could be out of the hi-jacked car sitting on the road as the car with the garda who fired the fatal shot passed by.

Det Sgt Shanahan insisted, however, this was his recollection.

From memory Det Sgt Shanahan said he did not know who shot Mr MacLochlainn for several weeks after the event.

He said there had been no discussion of this at the meeting in Garda headquarters the following day on May 2nd 1998.

Another witness, identified as DG05, who had been involved in training the NSU at the time said he had not known the identity of the Garda who had fired the fatal shot until he gave evidence before the inquiry.

Det Sgt Shanahan told the Inquiry he had been on surveillance duty that day and when he arrived on the scene of the robbery he was met by “a man with a shotgun.

“He was the first thing I met. I pulled my car at an angle towards the ditch to the right.

“He was coming towards me.  He shouted ‘get back or I’ll shoot’.”

The detective said he had pointed his own gun at the man and shouted “armed gardai, drop the gun”.

The gunman got back into his Carina car and at this point a garda colleague tried to ram the Carina. He said he then became aware of a jeep which struck the Carina with one of the raiders in it and spun it around.

Det Sgt Shanahan continued into the scene and saw a second man with “an assault rifle making a motion as if he was trying to cock it”. 

There was also another man “I thought had a rocket launcher.”

The detective said he was running towards the Security van and the man with the assault rifle dropped it and ran away.

As he came around the side of the Security van Ronan MacLochlainn was standing pointing a gun. 

“I was running towards him.  He (MacLochlainn) stopped one of the cars and pulled a person out.

“He pulled the driver out onto the roadway. The gun was in one hand.

Mr Shanahan recalled the driver of the hi-jacked car “semi-sitting” on the road and a woman passenger from the car standing over him as the now stolen car did a u-turn and started to drive north.

The woman “was very distressed". 

She said my husband, he’s had a by-pass. I said we’re gardai. You will be alright, just stay down”

Ahead of him the hi-jacked Mazda collided with another car and coming to a halt. “I didn’t actually see it happen," he said.

By the time Det Sgt Shanahan reached the hi-jacked car Ronan MacLochlainn was out of the car and actually sitting on the road. 

He did not recall Mr MacLochlainn being handcuffed at any point and “I wasn’t aware he had a gunshot wound”.

He recalled a green Mazda driving by  almost immediately he reached Mr MacLochlainn.

Asked about his own car being moved at the scene, Det Sgt Shanahan said he thought it had been moved to allow the ambulance into the scene as it would have been blocking the way.

The hearing continues.

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