The son of a Garda officer murdered by republicans has said the Irish government is blocking his attempts to see state files on the killing – and has called for a public inquiry into claims that it armed and protected the killers.
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. Several people were later acquitted.
His son, Dr Finian Fallon, believes the Irish government was complicit in arming violent republicans at the start of the Troubles. He has now presented evidence of “government-sanctioned gun running” to the current Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, by way of a statement from a former Garda intelligence officer.
The retired officer 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.
Dr Fallon said: “To date, the minister for justice is refusing to do anything about this new evidence.”
Speaking 10 years after his father’s murder, Fine Gael TD Garret Fitzgerald, said that according to Department of Justice (DOJ) permanent secretary at the time of the murder, Peter Berry, “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 challenged three cabinet ministers at the time of the murder “to say what they know” – including former taoisach Jack Lynch and former minister for defence Jim Gibbons.
The Irish Examiner reports 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 [ministerial] 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 Dáil in 2001 that there is some reason to believe Garda Fallon may have been murdered “with a weapon which had been part of earlier illegal arms shipments into this State” and that senior gardai suspected that a prominent politician “turned a blind eye” to the importation.
The Examiner said it was widely believed that politician was Charlie Haughey, and that as minister for finance in 1969, he sent his brother Jock to Britain as part of a team to “relieve the distress in Northern Ireland”. Finian Fallon believes he was in London to procure arms.
He added: “Without the involvement of the Irish government in gun running, I believe my father and perhaps hundreds of others, North and South, would not have died in the Troubles.”
In his latest correspondence with the minister, he asked her for “an inquiry into this matter while some of the protagonists remain alive”.
No files on his father’s murder have been released under the 30-year rule, despite his repeated requests, he said.
Asked to comment, the Irish DOJ responded that it is in “ongoing correspondence” with Dr Fallon.
“The government will continue to engage with victims and victims’ interests’ groups, and with the British government and the parties in Northern Ireland, in seeking to give effect to the mechanisms under the Stormont House Agreement aimed at addressing the needs of victims and the legacy of the troubles on this island in a comprehensive way,” it added.
Garda Richard Fallon was the first member of An Garda Síochána to be killed in the Troubles.
He was shot in Dublin by republicans during a bank robbery in 1970. The gunmen belonged to republican group, Saor Eire.
Although there were several prosecutions, nobody was convicted for the crime.
Estimated to have only a few dozen members, Saor Eire emerged in the late 1960s and faded away in the mid 1970s. According to the Irish Times, it was “believed to be involved in gun running to Northern Ireland in 1969”.
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Richard Fallon’s family are entitled to truth and justice.
“As with our own government, the Irish government needs to do more to ensure that those who served the state and were targeted by the PIRA are given much greater priority in terms of the investigation of unsolved murders,” he said.
“Dublin also needs to acknowledge the role that it played in arming the PIRA and take responsibility for its actions and the consequences for people like Garda Richard Fallon who paid the ultimate price.”
Kenny Donaldson, director of services with victims’ group the South East Fermanagh Foundation, said the Fallon case “goes right to the heart of our difficulties with the Republic of Ireland state”.
He added: “The Fallon family have been denied answers, they have been passed off and treated with contempt by the same structures which Garda Fallon pledged his allegiance to.“