End Result

Cops planted fake bombs, then ‘discovered’ them, in order to get promotion.

A cop was involved in blackmail.

Cops coerced a man to make a false witness report.

As a result, twelve innocent people were arrested for murder.

Several of them were mistreated in custody, and the cops obtained a false confession.

Cops harassed those who were arrested, and in one case planted evidence.

None of which would have happened if cops had made sure a proper autopsy was carried out by a forensic pathologist, which would have shown there was no murder, but a hit and run.

Or if cops had preserved the scene, so evidence wasn’t lost.

Or if a cop had not gone for a drink, and because of that, wasn’t where he should have been when a hit and run happened.

It’s been six years since the Morris tribunal was set up in March 2002. Five years since it heard from the first witness. Eight reports later, the Dáil finally gets around to having a debate on what happened in Donegal.

And what’s the focus of the debate? The criticism of two politicians, and whether it was justified.

Freddy Morris must be wondering why he bothered.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.


  1. Fair point, but what I am wondering is why he was so critical of Howlin/Higgins. They didn’t go public; they went to the minister. Morris seems to think that they should have acted as private investigators first. I am not convinced, but I have still to read the full report, whereas you presumably have not only done that, but heard almost all of the evidence, unless I am very much mistaken.

  2. Morris wasn’t *that* critical. He notes that the two TDS acted in good faith in going to the minister, but says the information was given an authority and independence it did not deserve because they didn’t tell him it came from McBrearty and his SC.

    In Howlin’s case, he notes that the TD wasn’t told that the information was received by fax from McBrearty, and was “primed with misleading and incomplete information that was given an entirely unwarranted aura of independence and authority.” In Higgins case (and to a lesser extend Howlin) he argues that the TD should have approached the source directly and asked for confirmation before going to the minister. He doesn’t expect them to carry out a full investigation, but he is critical that they ran with anonymous allegations, pointing to John O’Donoghue’s evidence that his approach to anonymous claims is to throw them in the bin. Morris recommends guidelines for TDs in handling anonymous claims in future.

    The TDs argue in response that they are not mini-tribunals, that they passed on the information privately rather than going public, that it was credible in light of other things emerging from Donegal, and finally that the ends justified the means, because it led to the Morris tribunal and all that emerged as a result.

    The two final reports are highly critical of several Gardai in Donegal. However the press release on the tribunal focused on the criticism of the TDS, and was released several hours before the reports, influencing the coverage of the story. In effect, the department of justice spun the story away from the Garda wrongdoing.

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