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Solicitor 'ready for battle' on Donegal case load

THE SOLICITOR representing members of the extended McBrearty family in Donegal has said he is "prepared for war" with the State in over 50 High Court actions, 13 of which are in an advanced state of readiness to go to trial.

David Walley, the Dublin lawyer who is representing some 53 people arising from matters following the death of cattle dealer Richie Barron in Raphoe, Co Donegal, told the Irish Independent he would be bringing cases forward for trial very soon.

One of his clients, Frank McBrearty Jnr, son of Raphoe publican Frank McBrearty Snr, settled his action against the State for a huge ?1.5m after the State initiated a settlement meeting last week.

Mr McBrearty Jnr sued for wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution and breaches of his constitutional rights, amongst other claims. The settlement covered four separate claims, two from Mr McBrearty Jnr, one from his wife Patricia and one joint claim by the couple.

The eventual legal bill from a deluge of High Court actions arising from the Donegal Garda corruption saga is set to be massive. According to Mr Walley, the "principal" cases arising from the scandal involve people arrested in relation to the Richie Barron 'murder' probe.

Frank McBrearty Jnr and 13 others were arrested on suspicion of involvement in Mr Barron's murder. Frank McBrearty Snr was also arrested. Like his son, he was never charged. In its second report, the Morris Tribunal held that Mr Barron died due to a hit-and-run, and criticised the treatment of Mr McBrearty Jnr and his family.

Mr Walley told the Irish Independent that Frank McBrearty, the firm in the name of Frank McBrearty Snr, had a substantial case against the State for loss of its business and compromise of its business because of the unwarranted attention of the gardai.

Gardai mounted 128 inspections of the McBrearty premises between January and July 1997, and issued 89 summonses for breaches of the liquor licensing laws over 18 months. These were all withdrawn on direction of the DPP in June 2000.

Aside from the case being brought by the McBrearty company, Mr Walley said Frank McBrearty Snr and his wife Rosalind had very strong separate cases.

The solicitor said there were also a number of cases arising from a circular sent around a number of Donegal Division Garda stations which required gardai to report on the activities of Mr McBrearty, his extended family and his contacts.

A total of 30 libel actions are pending arising from this particular circular, while Mr Walley is acting for up to 10 others alleging harassment and intimidation from the gardai in relation to the investigation into the death of Mr Barron.

Mr Walley said he was prepared for battle. But if the State wished to invite them to a settlement meeting, that was up to them. He said Frank McBrearty Jnr's case had been ready to roll, all summonses and subpoenas had been issued and all their expert witnesses had been lined up. "We were sharp as a razor and we were ready for it. It was a case where the State knew we were ready for it," Mr Walley said.

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The lawyer said they expected to see all cases come before the courts in the next 12 months. "It's a matter for the State to decide whether they wish to engage with us with a view to disposing of them (the cases) otherwise," he added.

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