Drew Harris apologises to man wrongly convicted of woman’s manslaughter 50 years ago

Martin Conmey signed what he claimed was a forced confession

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has apologised to a man wrongly convicted of the manslaughter of a 19-year-old Co Meath woman over 50 years ago.

The body of Una Lynskey was discovered in the Dublin Mountains about two months after she was last seen getting off a bus near her home at Porterstown Lane, Ratoath, Co Meath, in October 1971.

Martin Conmey, a neighbour and one of three men implicated in the killing, signed what he claimed was a forced confession.

Gardaí have confirmed Mr Harris has now sent a written apology to Mr Conmey.


He has also ordered a review of the investigation into the suspected murder of Ms Lynskey.

Mr Conmey served three years in prison in 1972 following his conviction for manslaughter, but that was quashed in 2010. The Court of Appeal later ruled in 2014 that Mr Conmey’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice.

In a statement, gardaí said the commissioner has asked the Serious Crime Review Team to examine the investigation, the outcome of which will determine whether further action is required.

Mr Conmey, from Ratoath, Co Meath, received a State apology in 2016 and the commissioner has now sent him a written apology "from An Garda Síochána in relation to the miscarriage of justice that Mr Conmey suffered".

The State's unreserved apology was issued before the High Court and it agreed to pay "appropriate compensation".

Mr Conmey and his friend Dick Donnelly were convicted of Ms Lynskey's manslaughter in July 1972.

A third man, Martin Kerrigan, who was also suspected of having been involved in Ms Lynskey's death, was abducted and killed by her brothers, Seán and James Lynskey, and her cousin John Gaughan, nine days after her body was discovered. Mr Donnelly won his appeal against his conviction in 1973 but Mr Conmey's conviction was upheld and he served three years in jail.

Speaking on Monday evening Mr Conmey said the letter of apology from the Garda Commissioner was delivered to him at his home by a Garda sergeant last Friday. But he said the controversy had “ruined” his life, and called for a public inquiry into what he claimed were forced confessions.

“The letter was from the Garda commissioner apologising unreservedly for what had happened to me,” he said, adding he felt “very good” when he received it.

However, he believed the other families wronged by the controversy also deserved an apology. The matter would “never rest” until there was a public inquiry to determine “how people made statements (about) something that never happened.... that’s the part that’s not answered,” he told RTÉ Drivetime programme.

Mr Conmey then read from Mr Harris’s letter, which referenced the 2016 State apology, saying he wished to “reiterate that apology on behalf of An Garda Síochána for the pain and loss experienced by you as a result of your imprisonment for certain offences following your conviction” in 1973 which was later “declared a miscarriage of justice”.

“I apologise unreservedly as commissioner and on behalf of An Garda Síochána,” the letter signed by Mr Harris further stated.

Mr Conmey said he had carried the “burden” of making false confessions as he had thought of himself as an “inadequate or weak person” for doing it, blaming and “knocking” himself. He was “embarrassed to even give my name when looking for a job” for fear of people thinking “sure that’s that fella again, Conmey”.

“It would never, never leave me; every morning I get up, every night I go to bed it was the same thing. And the unfortunate thing is if I get a few drinks I tend to get paranoid and if someone says something out of the ordinary, I’m kind of analysing that and reading into it. It’s still there and it still will be there until I die... it’s a scar that has destroyed me.”

He added while Mr Donnelly had died last year, when he was alive they were a “last link” for each other and could “console” each other over what happened. However, that was now lost since Mr Donnelly’s death last October.

The disappearance of Ms Lynskey features in a new RTÉ One TV documentary series, Crimes and Confessions, airing this Monday night at 9.35pm.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times