Senior Garda rejects claims deaths during Tidey kidnapping were due to ‘friendly fire’

John O’Driscoll says review will show claims over two deaths are ‘totally untrue’

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll has said that claims a garda and Army private killed during the kidnapping of supermarket executive Don Tidey had been killed by "friendly fire" were "totally untrue".

Gardaí were finalising their review of the 1983 case, which would conclude in “a short period of time” and would “prove beyond doubt” that the garda and the Army private member were not killed by State weapons, he said.

Supermarket executive Mr Tidey was held captive for 23 days by an armed IRA gang before he was rescued by gardaí and the Defence Forces.

In a wide-ranging interview on RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland, the assistant commissioner spoke about progress made on the investigation into the cyberattack on the HSE earlier this year, as well as the force's handling of corruption allegations.


The force was very conscious that there were criminals who would target people who were vulnerable and worked within law enforcement, he said. They were dealing with human frailties, he added.

“With any organisation of that size, there is potential for wrongdoing.”

Organised crime

The assistant commissioner said the investigation of organised crime was now an international endeavour, with organised crime groups being targeted by a combination of law enforcement agencies and joint investigation teams from different jurisdictions.

Regarding the HSE cyberattack, gardaí were confident that people would be brought before the courts in relation to it, he said. Gardaí­also believe they have identified the IP addresses of those behind the attack.

The assistant commissioner said the force had prevented the gang from carrying out a further 750 attacks and that each time they attempted to hack a computer system they were met with a Garda “cease-and-desist” notice.

"We have a better knowledge of who was involved and they are not located in Ireland. We are working to gather sufficient evidence to secure prosecutions," he added. Even though the stolen HSE files and information had been found in the US, gardaí still believe the Conti group based in eastern Europe was behind the attack.

Gangland focus

The assistant commissioner, who is the head of the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, said the bureau’s main focus in 2021 had been to prevent gangland murder and protect life. This year, gardaí handed over to the State more than €8 million in cash seized from criminals and organised crime groups.

The bureau had intervened in 77 threat-to-life incidents since the Regency Hotel murder in 2016, but in just two such incidents this year, he said.

The assistant commissioner is also in charge of the Serious Crime Review Team, which is also known as the cold case unit and is currently looking at a number of historical cases including the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in 1996.

That murder inquiry remained a live investigation and officers from the Serious Crime Review Team were also working with the senior investigating officer in charge of the case in Cork, the assistant commissioner said.

The nature, extent and timeline of a review of the case had yet to be decided. There had been advances in forensics and other reasons why progress could now be achieved, he said.