A Patten Report For A Reformed Garda Síochána

In relation to the latest evidence of malpractice within the ranks of An Garda Síochána, one cannot but help feel that, as always, the continuity state is looking after its own through the familiar tactics of dissemblance and avoidance. Put these controversies on the long finger, while making the appropriate noises of concern, and sooner or later the news cycle will turn over. There are obvious reasons for this strategy, not least the benefits that many establishment figures have derived from the culture of patronage and cronyism which has characterized at least part of the Garda force since the 1920s (though let us not forget that there have been several prominent members of the fourth estate who have availed themselves of the self-same avenues of malfeasance in recent years). The early-2000s saw the lid partially lifted on the “brown paper envelope” traditions of local and national government, of councillors and TDanna, though with little long-term benefit (as RTÉ aptly illustrated before the last general election). We have yet to see a similar exercise in stone-lifting among An Garda to observe what grubby things crawl beneath. Are the majority of gardaí engaged in rule- or law-breaking? No, of course. Is there a significant minority of gardaí engaged in what we might term petty corruption, from the bending of regulations to outright criminality? Undoubtedly, yes. In some cases, particularly the Mary Boyle scandal, it seems that petty would be better qualified as “major”. Which brings to mind the question, do we need a “Patten Report” and an associated package of root-and-branch reforms for An Garda Síochána? Unfortunately, the answer is an unavoidable yes.

It’s not as if we were unaware of all this, as can be seen in this Guardian article from 2004:

“Senior Irish police officers planted fake IRA bombmaking equipment and ammunition on both sides of the Northern Ireland border to reap praise for “discovering” them, according to a report published yesterday.

The police from county Donegal in north-west Ireland, went to bizarre lengths to orchestrate high-profile bogus finds of homemade explosives, bullets and fake prototype IRA rockets in the early 1990s.

The officers planted the hoaxes at a tense and violent moment of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, just before the first IRA ceasefire in 1994.

Their aim was to impress the Royal Ulster Constabulary with their skills. The fake finds were so elaborate and unchecked they fooled a Northern Ireland minister who commended the Irish government on the “heartening success” of one operation.

The hoax finds began in 1993. Desperate for kudos, Superintendent Kevin Lennon and Detective Garda Noel McMahon enlisted an “unusual” Irish businesswoman who was to make and deliver much of their fake arms caches. Described by the judge as “mischievous”, Adrienne McGlinchey, 28, was said to be attracted by the attention and excitement of becoming an IRA informer for the police – although she had never been a member of the organisation.

When the police found out Ms McGlinchey was a fraud they decided that rather than discard her they would use her “for the fulfilment of their agenda”.

Over a period of more than a year she ground fertiliser by hand in a coffee machine while watching television in her flat, stored bomb-making equipment in her bedroom, and delivered neatly-packaged hoax weapons stashes.

She even made fake pieces of ammunition to the police officers’ specifications, including a bizarre “metal tube with fins coming out of it”. The Irish police sought to convince the RUC that this was a new prototype IRA rocket.

Ms McGlinchey’s charade to help the corrupt police was so melodramatic it was described by one local resident as reminiscent of the 1970s police show, Hawaii Five-0.

On September 11 1993, Ms McGlinchey, at the two officers’ guidance, carried a lunchbox containing bullets and shotgun cartridges across the Northern Ireland border into Strabane, in county Tyrone. She had been instructed to leave the box behind a shop. Supt Lennon wanted the package left in Strabane “so that he could demonstrate his skill to the RUC by alerting them that it was there”.

The RUC duly launched a large operation to close and seal off part of Strabane where they found the equipment.

This was the first of seven significant hoaxes that have been detailed in the report. In Donegal Ms McGlinchey helped police plant ammonium nitrate and ground-up fertiliser in neatly divided domestic freezer bags in several locations.

She transported the stashes by bus and once allegedly in a police patrol car.

One of the caches was discovered by a man walking his dog near a sweet factory in Letterkenny, Donegal. Each time the officers were commended on their work in making the finds, despite the fact the IRA normally kept their fertiliser for bomb making in fertiliser bags, not family freezer bags.

In July 1994 the officers spent months preparing two caches of homemade explosives, including ground fertiliser, in 70 plastic freezer bags which they were to “discover” in farm outhouses in Rossnowlagh, Donegal.

It was highly unusual to find IRA equipment in farm sheds that were in use.

Or take this from the news and current website, thejournal.ie, in 2015:

TWO FORMER SUPPLIERS to the Corrib gas project told a jury they supplied £25,000-worth of alcohol to gardaí in 2007 on behalf of Shell E&P Ireland.

The allegations were made by Desmond Kane and Neil Rooney, co-owners of OSSL, which had previously supplied personal protective equipment for the Corrib gas project in north Mayo.

Both claimed that a person from Shell E&P Ireland asked them to buy alcohol in Northern Ireland and store it in a container at the back of their premises in Bangor Erris.

The two men’s claims were made at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court last Thursday during the trial of Gerry Bourke and Liam Heffernan, who were charged with violent disorder following a protest in a shell compound in Aughoose, Pollathomas.

Mr Bourke and Mr Heffernan were later found not guilty by the jury.

Under oath, Mr Neil Rooney claimed that the first delivery of alcohol to Belmullet Garda Station was made in 2005, and that in 2007, he was asked by Conor Byrne, a senior pipeline engineer with Shell, to make a large delivery.

Mr Rooney, from Downpatrick, Co Down, said he went to the north and bought £7,000 worth of alcohol. When Mr Byrne saw the amount of alcohol, Mr Rooney claimed he was told: “you stupid c*nt there’s over 300 guards here, you’ll have to go back and get more”. He said he bought another £18,000 worth of alcohol.

When asked by Mr Brendan Nix, SC for Mr Bourke, what happened to the alcohol, he said he personally delivered two thirds of it to Belmullet Garda Station and he named the gardaí who he gave the alcohol to. The rest, he said, was to be delivered to the Garda Sub Aqua Unit.

Desmond Kane, a native of Glasgow said OSSL was set up in 2000 in Bangor Erris to supply safety equipment for the Corrib gas project. In 2005 and 2006, he said requests were made by Shell to acquire ‘modest amounts of alcohol’, which was to be stored at their office in Bangor Erris in a container for Shell to have and distribute.

Mr Kane claimed that the first consignment of alcohol brought from Northern Ireland was bought in the first week in December 2007, but it was not enough and they were told to get more.

He said he was asked to bring a third of the alcohol to Athlone Garda Station but was later changed to a garage on the Athlone bypass. He said he was met by a man and they off-loaded the alcohol.

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