A Dublin man who believes Irish ministers may have colluded with republicans over the murder of his father says he has no confidence that his government will honour commitments to investigate cases as part of wider attempts to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.
Garda Richard Fallon, a 43-year-old father of five, was shot dead by republican group Saor Eire during a Dublin bank robbery in 1970.
Senior Dail members and southern journalists have linked the murder to the importation of weapons for republicans in Northern Ireland by Jock Haughey (brother of ex-taoiseach Charlie) and founding PIRA member John Kelly, with claims of involvement and cover up against ex-taoiseachs Jack Lynch and Charlie Haughey and cabinet ministers Neil Blaney and Jim Gibbons.
Dublin has refused to release any papers on the murder under the 30-year rule and has rejected calls for a public inquiry by Garda Fallon’s son, who is now seeking the reopening of his father’s inquest.
Dr Finian Fallon said he has no faith in his government coming clean under Stormont House Agreement processes currently out for consultation in NI.
In May this year, the Irish government released an ‘Information Note’ regarding Dublin’s proposed role in and co-operation with the proposed legacy institutions and inquests, he noted.
There is no mention, that I can discern, of a context for the Irish government to undertake a formal review of its actions during the Troubles. As such, it is a meaningless document.Dr Finian Fallon, whose Garda father was murdered by republicans linked to the Irish government
“There is no mention, that I can discern, of a context for the Irish government to undertake a formal review of its actions during the Troubles,” he said. “As such, it is a meaningless document.”
He added: “The politically expedient approach engaged in willingly by both governments ignores the political accommodations made at the beginning of the Troubles by the Irish government and its ongoing part in the mayhem that ensued.
“The supposed commitment by the Dublin government to introducing legislation is a classic sidestep, designed to avoid committing in advance to a specific process.
“The Irish government is only ever dragged kicking and screaming into any process that involves the possibility of exposing its corruption or collusion ... this is what Irish politicians do when they attain power, vindicate the Constitution at any cost.”
He said the Irish Department of Justice “continues to ignore the substantive accusation” of its collusion throughout the Troubles.
“The DoJ gives the impression of being responsive, yet they are intentionally ignoring the suffering caused by both governments and trotting out the usual history of the peace process, followed by a vague commitment to enact legislation to support this. This is not good enough. We know from the consultation process that the victims are not happy.
“I’ve witnessed the visceral pain and hurt of victims living near the border and elsewhere, as they recounted stories of brutal death and destruction while accusing the Irish government of collusion.
“The Irish and British governments cannot wash the blood from their hands with an exercise in appearances. It’s deeply cynical and is sustaining the deep hurt and pain of so many who have been so badly affected. This is now a peace process to protect the perpetrators and antagonists, the victims are being left behind.”
Father-of-five Garda Fallon was shot dead by republican group Saor Eire during a Dublin bank robbery in 1970. Several people were later acquitted.
Last year his son presented evidence of “government-sanctioned gun running” to the Irish justice minister – a statement from a former Garda intelligence officer who said he had seen a UK Special Branch photograph of former taoiseach Charlie Haughey’s brother, Jock, in London around 1970 with a leading Saor Eire figure and founding PIRA member John Kelly from Belfast.
Speaking 10 years after Garda Fallon’s murder, Fine Gael TD Garret Fitzgerald said that at the time of the murder, Department of Justice (DOJ) permanent secretary Peter Berry said that “the gun that shot Garda Fallon was imported through Dublin Airport in September 1969 with the knowledge of a member of the then government”.
Mr Fitzgerald then challenged three cabinet ministers “to say what they know” – including former taoiseach Jack Lynch and former minister for defence Jim Gibbons.
The Irish Examiner reported that the year after the murder, Fine Gael TD Gerry L’Estrange told the Dail that “one of the men who murdered Garda Fallon was brought down to Greenore ferryboat in a State car” which it claimed belonged to then minister of agriculture Neil Blaney.
It also reported that Des O’Malley, former minister for justice, told the Dail in 2001 that there was reason to believe Garda Fallon may have been murdered “with a weapon which had been part of earlier illegal arms shipments into this State”. The Examiner said it was widely believed that finance minister Charlie Haughey sent his brother Jock to Britain to “relieve the distress in Northern Ireland”.
Dr Fallon believes Jock was in London to procure arms which may have killed his father. His calls for an inquiry and the release of state files under the 30-year rule have so far both been refused.
UUP legacy negotiator Doug Beattie MLA says that current legacy proposals will not compel Dublin to reveal important evidence - in stark contrast to the UK.
“The legacy mechanisms compel the UK government to provide every scrap of information for the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) investigations and will be redacted only when the family report is written,” he said.
“This means all evidence is available which could lead to prosecutions. On the other hand the Irish government are not compelled to provide all information and what they do provide will be redacted before investigation.
“This means organisations such as the Irish Directorate of Military Intelligence, the Irish government and the Garda can remove vital information that could implicate its members.”
This undermines the ability of the proposed Historical Investigations Unit to probe hundreds of murders in NI which were planned from the south – and the use of the Republic by PIRA for arms dumps, escape routes and as a safe haven.
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said many legacy cases have a cross-border dimension and it is therefore “an essential component” for the Irish government to fully co-operate.
“If such co-operation was not forthcoming then the entire process could not function effectively,” he said. “There are proposals for the independent monitoring of all legacy bodies, including the actions of the Irish government.”
While successive Irish government ministers have been highly vocal in calling for transparency on allegations of state collusion in Northern Ireland, they have proven much less so regarding claims of collusion south of the border.
In 2014 BBC NI Spotlight examined claims of Garda-IRA collusion in a dozen murders along the border. Lord Trimble called for a public inquiry while solicitor John McBurney said an independent panel should look into the claims. No government minister, Garda representative or former Garda member would speak to the BBC on the claims.
Asked to respond to claims by Dr Finian Fallon that Dublin’s current consultation on dealing with the past through the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) proposals were “meaningless”, a spokesman for the Irish Department of Justice gave an outline history of the SHA and its proposed legacy bodies, saying the UK and Dublin will eventually “consider statements of acknowledgment and would expect others to do the same”.
He said Dublin remains “fully committed to giving effect to the comprehensive framework or measures to address the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past that are set out in the SHA”.
The spokesman claimed that there are “arrangements currently in place and being operated to facilitate co-operation in respect of historical inquiries and inquests”.
However, relatives of those killed in the Kingsmills massacre say Dublin has provided only newspaper clippings for their legacy inquest despite three years of requests.
Ths spokesman added that legislation is being brought forward “as a priority to further facilitate the necessary co-operation envisaged” with SHA legacy bodies charged with investigating the past.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has led and maintains an ongoing process of contact, interaction and consultation with groups representing and advocating for the victims of Troubles-related violence and their relatives, both in regard to the process for implementation of the Stormont House Agreement framework and more broadly. Addressing the needs of the victims of Troubles-related violence remains a priority and these measures underpin the government’s full commitment to this process.”