Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice Martin Kenny TD and Sinn Féin TD for Kerry Pa Daly have today called for a full, independent public inquiry into the Garda and judicial system related to the tactics used by the so-called Garda ‘heavy gang’.
This follows the broadcast of the final episode Crimes and Confessions by RTÉ, investigating the existence of a Garda ‘heavy gang’ in the late 1970’s and 1980’s.
Speaking after the broadcast, which detailed the forced confessions of the Hayes family by Gardai during the Kerry Babies case, Teachta Kenny said:
“Again, we see the same Gardaí who formed part of what was known as the ‘Murder Squad’ using heavy tactics to force confessions from a woman who was mourning the loss of her new-born baby.
“It is further proof that this ‘heavy gang’ were repeatedly promoted to powerful ranks within the policing service, which gave them credibility with their peers.
“When these Gardaí failed to prove the case to their colleagues in the DPP’s office, a tribunal was then initiated to review the conduct of Gardaí. The only conduct reviewed as part of that tribunal was that of the Hayes family.
“Ms Hayes, a mother who was grieving the immeasurable loss of one child, was threatened with removal of her other child amongst many other things, in order to force a confession. Her private life was put on trial, not the shameful and downright criminal tactics employed by Gardaí at the time.
“I would like to pay tribute to the people of Abbeydorney and the surrounding areas who protested outside the courts during the tribunal to show their disgust at the judiciaries’ treatment of Ms Hayes and her family.
“Time has come for Garda management to acknowledge the existence of the ‘heavy gang’ and the tactics they used to illicit false confessions – not only from the Hayes family, but from those wrongly accused of the Sallins Train Robbery, the kidnap and murder of Una Lynskey, and many of the other cases which did not make it to air.
“The treatment of these people was nothing short of torture, evidenced by the condemnation of human rights organisations such as Amnesty International at the time.
“The only way to serve justice in these cases is for an independent public inquiry, chaired by an international judicial figure. The activities of Gardaí, the judiciary and indeed other arms of the state need to be examined and learned from.
Teachta Pa Daly added:
“These documentaries have proven to be a watershed in the fight for justice for so many, and the government must not drag its feet on taking action.
“A statutory inquiry into the arrest, interrogation, torture and conviction of the individuals affected is now required. Time is running out for so many, and we cannot allow these wrongs to remain uncorrected and unaddressed.
“The state made a Faustian pact with a number of individuals, on the basis the ends justified the means.
“When they were given a hammer, everything and everyone became a nail, and other police investigation methods were neglected. This set the development of policing back decades, as the overwhelming focus was turned on extracting a confession at all costs.
“Innocent people, including Nicky Kelly, Osgur Breathnach and Joanne Hayes, were bullied, assaulted and indeed tortured, all for the purposes of incriminating themselves wrongly and unjustly.
“These cases are not ancient history but are as important now as they were when they happened. The development of proper policing on the island, and addressing the past north and south, demands human rights standards be adhered to and enforced.”