McBrearty Jr refuses to attend Morris tomorrow

 

The Donegal publican who gardaí attempted to frame for the killing cattle dealer Richie Barron has refused to give evidence at the Morris Tribunal.

Frank McBrearty Jr was due to take the stand tomorrow morning to accuse gardai of abuse and harassment and of forging his signature on a false confession.

The Morris Tribunal, which is investigating Garda corruption in Donegal, is currently hearing claims that some 12 people - many extended members of the McBrearty family - were interrogated, intimidated and abused during the inquiry into Mr Barron's death.

Two handwriting experts are among the witnesses due to give evidence on Mr McBrearty Jnr's false confession. But he says he did not sign a statement and has stressed he has never met the experts due to take the stand.

Mr McBrearty said: "Not one of these handwriting experts have ever met me or my legal team. How can any of them give evidence about my signatures?"

He is boycotting the inquiry which he claims is covering up for Garda management and the Department of Justice.

Mr McBrearty was intimidated and harassed by gardaí after his wrongful arrest after a murder inquiry was launched into Mr Barron's death.

Gardai attempted to frame Mr McBrearty and his cousin Mark McConnell for killing the Raphoe man when his body was discovered at the roadside in the early hours of the morning on October 14th 1996.

The tribunal later ruled Mr Barron was the victim of a hit-and-run, although no-one has ever been charged in relation to his death.

Subsequent to Mr Barron's death, the McBrearty family - who owned a nightclub in Raphoe - claim to have been hounded by gardai. Around 160 breaches of licensing laws brought against their premises were later dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In the latest sub-module, the tribunal was to identify the gardaí who harassed the family.

It also planned to uncover the number and nature of the summonses issued by gardai on the premises over a two-year period between October 1996 and September 1998.

More than 20 witnesses, the majority members of An Garda Siochána, are due to give evidence at the hearing over the coming weeks.

Mr McBrearty Jnr has continuously condemned the way his family were treated during the murder investigation and maintains they have been treated unfairly by the tribunal and the state for its failure to grant legal aid.

"In my list alone there is nearly 50 witnesses missing that were involved in my arrest and detention that are not on the list.

"The gardaí intimidated us and threatened us, certain individuals in the gardaí have intimidated us and threatened, and now the Morris Tribunal is carrying on the same," he said.

In September, Mr McBrearty Jnr received a record compensation pay-out of €1.5 million and an apology from the Government in an out-of-court settlement.

Despite being awarded damages for malicious prosecution, wrongful arrest, false arrest and breaches of constitutional rights, he has vowed to continue his fight for justice.

Mr McBrearty Jnr believes his father Frank McBrearty Snr will also refuse to take the stand when called within weeks.

"It took me 10 years to clear my name after being wrongly accused of a murder that didn't happen," he continued.

"My family are out to get justice and we will see Michael McDowell in the European Courts.

"Our premises are closed at the moment because it has been extensively damaged by flooding and we will be lucky if we are open for Christmas, so at the moment we have more on our minds than the Morris Tribunal," he added.

PA