The Irish Times view on the Regency Hotel trial: unanswered questions
Transparency is essential if the public is to be reassured that all appropriate lessons have been learned
The daylight murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in Dublin in 2016 caused public outrage and the Garda Síochána came under intense pressure. Photograph: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin.
Events at the Regency Hotel in Dublin in 2016 are the most notorious – to date – in an unprecedented cycle of death and suffering. For the family of David Byrne, who was shot dead that day, the collapse of Patrick Hutch’s trial at the Special Criminal Court will bring more pain. The family of Det Supt Colm Fox, the lead investigating garda on the case, who died in February 2018, has also been through an awful ordeal.
Notwithstanding the sensitivities involved, however, the public should be told why the trial collapsed. It is not sufficient to accept a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions that charges should be dropped and allow the reasoning to go unexamined. Transparency is essential if the public is to be reassured that all appropriate lessons have been learned and issues addressed.
The Kinahan/Hutch feud has already claimed 19 lives and could continue for years. The murder of Gary Hutch in Spain in 2015 sparked the gang violence that led to family members, relatives and associates of both groups – though predominantly Hutch-linked targets – being shot dead. Ending the bloodshed and locking up those involved remains a priority for the Garda Síochána.
The daylight murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel caused huge concern and the Garda came under intense pressure. Daniel Kinahan had been the primary target but he escaped. Two men, one dressed as a woman, entered the hotel, armed with handguns. They were followed by three others carrying automatic weapons and dressed as gardaí.
During the trial, Garda evidence of identification was challenged. Defence counsel alleged that police statements had been matched and co-ordinated and sought the production of Garda emails and other electronic materials. The sudden death by suicide of the lead investigator and the discovery of notes he had written generated “unprecedented conundrums” for the court. Yesterday, the DPP recommended that the case be dropped. To learn from mistakes and prevent any repetition, these events require a public explanation.