Cost of probe into garda shooting of IRA man is double original estimate

The scene outside Ashford, Co Wicklow, in May 1998.

The cost of an inquiry into the fatal shooting of a Real IRA member by gardaí is running at more than double the original estimate.

The MacLochlainn Commission of Investigation, due to last six months in 2014, is now scheduled for a May 2016 conclusion following a number of extensions.

Revised estimates for the administration costs of the inquiry now stand at €850,000, more than twice the €350,000 Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald advised an Oireachtas Committee last year.

Crucially, that figure does not include legal costs and expenses for witnesses assisting and providing evidence to the commission which are expected to be considerable.

The Department of Justice said it had no estimate of the likely total bill for the probe. “It has not received any indication of third-party costs for this commission,” it said.

Established in August 2014, the commission was to sit for six months to consider the evidence of some 85 witnesses but an extension was granted until April 2015 and the administration costs estimate was increased to €414,000.

It was extended again to November 2015 when costs were revised upwards to €627,500 and then a third extension was granted, bringing the target completion date to May 2016, with another anticipated increase in costs to €850,000.

The commission is investigating the death of Ronan MacLochlainn, shot dead by gardaí in Ashford, Co Wicklow, following an attempted armed robbery in May 1998. It was prompted by a case taken to the European Court of Human Rights by his partner Gráinne Nic Gibb. She argued the Sate had failed to carry out an effective investigation.

The 27-year-old father of three from Ballymun, Dublin, was part of a six-man gang who attempted to rob a Securicor van containing more than €250,000 by blocking it on a series of narrow bends outside Ashford village.

Gardaí on surveillance duty intercepted the scene and the gang tried to scatter, with MacLochlainn hijacking a passing car from an elderly couple and attempting to escape.

It was first claimed he was killed in a shoot-out but gardaí later retracted their statement when it emerged the robbers had not fired any shots.

The garda who fired the fatal shot had himself been shot dead in a friendly fire incident during another armed robbery.


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