Call for inquiry into escape of garda killer

Tue, Apr 3, 2012, 01:00

PRESIDENT'S SPEECH:THE ASSOCIATION of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has expressed its dissatisfaction at the Government’s handling of the escape from an open prison of a criminal who served less than half his sentence for the manslaughter of a garda.

Association president Pádraic Dolan said the case of criminal Martin McDermott raised serious questions about the administration of justice in the Republic in light of the fact he had killed Garda Gary McLoughlin during a high-speed Garda chase.

In his address to Mr Shatter at AGSI’s annual conference in Co Wexford last night, Mr Dolan asked how a criminal with 91 previous convictions who had previously absconded from Loughan House prison could be able to abscond again after killing a garda.

“More seriously from our perspective: how was it possible for a criminal convicted of killing a garda by drunkenly crashing into a Garda vehicle to be sent to an open prison?”

While an Irish Prison Service investigation had been conducted since the 26-year-old Donegal man had absconded and the findings had been published by the Department of Justice, Mr Dolan said this did not go far enough. “We want a full public inquiry, there are still questions to be answered,” he said.

Mr Shatter acknowledged mistakes had been made. He said new processes had been put in place involving an extra layer of consideration by prison officials when a person convicted of homicide was being considered for a transfer to an open prison.

“We’ve fully addressed the issue and I hope it would be appreciated we’ve addressed it in such a way that a similar error never occurs in the future.” Mr Dolan told delegates the decision to close 39 Garda stations, with more closures planned, was “disgraceful” and had been made without any consultation with AGSI and the local communities affected.

Whitehall Garda station in north Dublin was one of the stations closing immediately despite between €600,000 and €700,000 being spent upgrading it in recent years.

He added that at last year’s AGSI conference Mr Shatter had agreed to meet with representatives of the association to discuss issues it wanted to raise.

Despite contacting Mr Shatter and his officials several times there was no reply.

“We waited and waited but the silence was deafening,” Mr Dolan said.

Then just days before the conference that got underway last night, there was a “flurry of activity” and arrangements for a meeting were quickly put in place.

“This was extremely disappointing,” he said.

A year during which progress on a range of issues could have been made had now passed with no progress.