Once upon a time, I wrote a screenplay, based on the Morris tribunal. It’s in development, which is a polite way of saying it’s sitting on a shelf in a producer’s office somewhere, gathering dust because the producer is busy gathering funds for other projects. This is one scene from that screenlay. It’s impossible to recreate life exactly on the screen, but what follows is based on sworn testimony at a tribunal, and all parties involved agreed with the essential truth of this account, though some admitted its truth only with great reluctance.
INTERIOR, GARDA STATION INTERVIEW ROOM ROISIN MCCONNELL is interviewed by two detectives, WHITE and DOOLEY. WHITE Seven years Roisin. That's the penalty for covering up, not telling us what happened. WHITE Dean will have to be put in care Roisin, don't you care? Frank McBrearty is sutting back laughing at you. ROISIN Nothing happened. Why won't you believe me. WHITE Swear it. Swear on your wains life. ROISIN I swear its true. Mark had nothing to do with anything. WHITE (shouting) Liar! You're nothing but a dirty lying bitch, using your child that way. [fade...] ROISIN sits alone smoking a cigarette. WHITE and DOOLEY enter. WHITE stands over her, to her side. DOOLEY stands by the doorway, near a light switch. WHITE (suddenly angry) You've had a good enough day all day, put out cigarette out! Stand up! Drop that cigarette now and get off the chair. WHITE throws an envelope of photographs on the table. They spill out. ROISIN rises from her chair as ordered, WHITE grabs it and sends it flying across the room. ROISIN is backing away from the bulking presence of WHITE, who towers over her. ROISIN retreats until her back was against a filing cabinet by the wall. WHITE Get away from that cabinet bitch. ROISIN, robotlike, half frozen, walks a couple of steps, stands still, frozen, waiting for the next order. WHITE circles her, shoulders her so that she stumbles to keep her balace, she is sent in the direction of DOOLEY. DOOLEY shoulders ROISIN so that she is tossed back to WHITE. This is repeated a second time. WHITE then reaches for the half-open envelope of photographs, gathering them in his hands. WHITE (lifting the photographs one by one in front of ROISIN, shouting) Look! Look at what they did to him! Are you proud of your husband? ROISIN closes her eyes tight, trying to turn her face away from the horrible images. WHITE (by now shouting so loudly spittle is flying from his mouth, his face inches from ROISIN) Don't look away bitch. This is your husband's handiwork, look at what he did you murderous lying bitch. You've been lying all day you Satanic bitch. Open your eyes bitch! Look! ROISIN opens her eyes, knowing there will be no escape until she does. As she looks, DOOLEY reaches for the light switch, flicking it on and off quickly. WHITE rifles through the photographs in front of ROISIN, so that they go past here eyes in an almost strobe-like manner as the lights flicker. ROISIN begins to back away again, towards the cabinet. WHITE They know what you did in Raphoe, Roisin. If you don't confess, we'll release you, wouldn't surprise me if you were stabbed when you got home. And you know what, when it happens I'll spit on your grave. ROISIN (crying) I'm innocent. WHITE Swear it. Swear on your father's grave. ROISIN shakes her head, refusing to obey the blasphemous order. WHITE There's some good in you then. (beat) Will you pray to your father to help you tell the truth? ROISIN nods to indicate yes. WHITE I'll say a wee prayer for Richie. Bless yourself. ROISIN automatically makes the sign of the cross. They both stand in silence for a moment. White breaks the silence. WHITE Well, were you speaking to your father? ROISIN Aye, I was. WHITE What did he say? ROISIN He said that I was telling the truth the whole day. WHITE (raising his arm, punching his fist into the cabinet behind her.) Lying bitch. Lying fucking bitch. Infuriated, WHITE storms out of the interview room.
In its fifth report, the Morris tribunal found “no doubt as to the integrity of Mrs McConnell as a witness as to fact… She has described in detail how this Garda brutality and mistreatment was followed shortly after by a lapse into mental illness and the hospitalisation of an innocent and decent woman. To maintain these lies an airtight conspiracy was needed. It has cracked and the repulsive nature of what occurred to Mrs. McConnell and the shocking nature of the conspiracy to publicly maintain that she was a liar in defence of the reputations of those who wronged her have been exposed as horrible. Some of those involved hoped that her strength and courage would fail her and that she would not attend and might be discouraged for medical or other reasons from attending at the Tribunal to give her evidence. Mrs McConnell found the strength to come and give her evidence to the Tribunal. The ultimate act of courage in upholding the truth has been that of Mrs McConnell.”
This has been a matter of public record since 2008. So why is anyone surprised by the behaviour of some Mayo Gardaí?