Tag Archives: Morris tribunal

The Charleton Report

As possibly the only journalist in Ireland to have covered two Garda tribunals of inquiry in their entirety, I should probably say a few words about what will probably come to be known in shorthand as the Charleton Tribunal. For starters, although I’d be glad to do so, it’s deeply unlikely I will cover a third Garda inquiry. The Morris and Smithwick tribunals — Morris in particular — occurred under… Read Article →

Why is anyone surprised by ‘Corrib Cops’?

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… Read Article →

Katrina Brolly

There are days when the workings of the State confound me. No, this isn’t about NAMA, now passed by both houses of the Oireachtas, and – barring referral to the Supreme Court – set to become law within a week, as soon as President McAleese signs it. Instead, it’s about a case resolved on the steps of the Four Courts today. As the Irish Times reports, the State and the… Read Article →

Just A Phone Call Away

Garda John O’Toole needed a favour. Phone records necessary for a criminal inquiry were trapped in bureaucratic hell, and the investigation was going nowhere. He phoned his brother-in-law in Garda HQ, asking if he could speed things up. The chief had signed the authorisations, but nothing was happening at the phone company. DI Nyham said he’d see what he could do. He phoned the GPO, spoke to someone (he couldn’t… Read Article →

Spider Hack

Mention earlier this week of the Morris tribunal reminds me of one of the minor riddles that inquiry left in my mind. In June 2005, the tribunal apparently learned that it’s website had been ‘hacked’. The Sunday Times later reported that ‘rogue computer software known as spyware was attached to the server used to “air” the Morris tribunal website.’ ‘This spyware then uncovered the secret web link to the tribunal’s… Read Article →

Partial Record

Something rather odd happened to the Morris tribunal recently. It disappeared. Blogger Gavin Sheridan noticed something awry when he went looking for a transcript on the site about eight weeks ago. He prepared an Freedom Of Information request to find out what was going on. ‘If we are to learn any lessons from the Morris Tribunal, all data relating to it must be available online, all transcripts, all rulings, all… Read Article →


I haven’t written too much about the new Criminal Justice Act, signed into law by the president last week. In case you missed it too, hearsay has been upgraded to evidence, as has the opinion of a Garda. Politicians dislike speaking out against attacks on civil rights in this country. Too many people are afraid of being seen as ‘soft on crime’. So it’s good to see (courtesy of Highland… Read Article →

There’s Always One

The benefit of the doubt (or if you prefer, the presumption of innocence) is one of the longest established principles in the common law. At it’s most blunt, the principle is expressed in Blackstone’s formulation: “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”. Populist cheerleaders for tough policing often focus on those ten guilty persons. Listening to some commentators, one might imagine offenders walking free every day,… Read Article →

Threat Level

Justice minister Dermot Ahern says membership of a criminal gang will become a scheduled offence, to be tried in the Special Criminal Court. In the last chapter of Chaos and Conspiracy, when I considered the lessons to be learned from what happened in Donegal a decade ago, I wrote this: “The Gardaí need effective oversight – for their own sake and for the sake of the people of Ireland. Models… Read Article →

Independent Review

Gerard Cunningham, who covered every day of evidence at the Morris tribunal, has written a devastating new book. Chaos and Conspiracy is at its most powerful when it details the awful consequences of the wrongful arrests of twelve innocent people. Take for example, Roisin McConnell: accused of having an affair, called a slut and a whore. She spent eight weeks afterwards in a psychiatric unit. Her sister Katrina Brolly had… Read Article →