No stone can be left unturned in du Plantier case review, says Taoiseach

Micheál Martin was speaking at the reopening of Fitzgibbon Street Garda station

It is vital that “no stone is left unturned” in bringing the killer of Sophie Toscan du Plantier to justice, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin was speaking following the announcement last week that gardaí have opened a full review of the murder of the French woman in west Cork in 1996.

The Serious Crime Review Team will use advances in DNA testing and other forensic technology to search for new leads in the case. Former journalist Ian Bailey was convicted in absentia of Ms du Plantier’s murder in France three years ago. He continues to maintain his innocence.

The Taoiseach said the review is not just “for optics” and will be carried out professionally and objectively.

“It is important no stone is left unturned in finding out who murdered Sophie and also in bringing that person to justice,” he said.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee echoed the Taoiseach’s view and said she has been assured by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris that “every effort” will be put into the review.

“No Garda cold case is reopened with any intention other than to try to ascertain new evidence to try to make sure justice is served,” Ms McEntee said.

Gardaí continue to appeal to anyone with information to contact Bantry Garda station or the Garda confidential line.

The Taoiseach and Ms McEntee were speaking at the reopening of Fitzgibbon Street Garda station in Dublin’s north inner city. The station, which closed in 2011, has been fully renovated as a victim and community focused facility.

The station has no cells, meaning suspects are taken to either Mountjoy or Store Street stations, but it features a “bespoke Crime Victim Support Suite”, the first of its kind in Ireland, the Garda said in a statement. Facilities include specially designed spaces “that will allow gardaí to cater for the varied and sometimes complex needs of victims in a compassionate and dignified way”. There will be a separate, private entrance for victims as well as medical examination and first aid rooms.

A community response team stationed in the building will respond to incidents raised by local residents while an events office will handle matches and concerts in nearby Croke Park. Community groups will be able to use the station’s community hub for events and a welfare room will be available for use by gardaí “in times of stress or following a traumatic incident”.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the new facilities are already being used extensively by the community and are helping gardaí break down the “sometimes negative associations that some may have with gardaí”.

The Taoiseach called the official opening of the station a “watershed day”. He said the facilities realise the ambitions of a report by Kieran Mulvey on measures to support the long-term economic and social regeneration of the area following a spate of gangland killings five years ago.

“Every effort has been made to ensure the privacy and security of people at their most vulnerable,” Mr Martin said, adding that local gardaí are with the community in trying to make the area “a safer, a more attractive place to live and work and play”.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times