Garda Inspectorate to probe siege man's shooting

The Garda Inspectorate is to examine the shooting of an armed man who barricaded himself in his home in Gort, Co Galway, for almost a day.

The Garda Inspectorate is to examine the shooting of an armed man who barricaded himself in his home in Gort, Co Galway, for almost a day.

Anthony Burke, 39, was hit in the chest last night by an officer from the Garda Emergency Response Unit after he walked out of the house firing a shotgun.

The construction worker had been holed up inside for 21 hours beforehand.

In all there are three investigations into the day-long siege and shooting.

An internal Garda inquiry was launched, headed by Chief Superintendent Kieran Kenny of the Sligo/Leitrim Division, while a criminal investigation run by local gardaí is also underway.

A spokeswoman for the Garda Inspectorate confirmed officials in the office would be looking into the incident.

In the wake of the damning Barr Report into the 2000 Abbeylara siege and shooting dead of John Carthy, the inspectorate was asked to review Garda practices and procedures in similar incidents.

The Gort siege falls under this remit, as do two separate stand-offs earlier this year.

In August Jim Hourigan, who is in his mid-50s, threatened to blow up his house in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, which he claimed was rigged with gas. The incident ended peacefully, with no-one injured, after 30 hours.

A similar incident followed in Portlaoise and lasted only eight hours after a local priest intervened.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell had requested all similar incidents be looked at in the review.

The independent inspectorate is headed by Kathleen O’Toole, former police commissioner of the City of Boston.

The two other inspectors, who took up their posts at the start of last month, are Robert Olson, former chief of police for the city of Minneapolis, and Gwen Bonif, who was previously commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Canada.

The Gort stand-off came to a head shortly after 7.30pm on Monday following over two hours of negotiations. Mr Burke gave up one of the shotguns he had, leaving it outside the front door.

Fifty minutes later, without warning, he emerged from the house firing a second weapon.

He was shot initially with “bean bag” rounds, non-lethal ammunition but, after these failed to disable him, a Garda sniper shot the man once on the upper body.

Mr Burke was rushed to Galway University Hospital, where he is in a stable condition.

Armed officers have been posted to the hospital.

Superintendent Kevin Donohoe, of the Garda Press Office, described the response as graduated and proportional.

He said: “When he (Mr Burke) was challenged and didn’t respond, a less lethal weapon was deployed.

“That didn’t disable him entirely and the officer fired one round from one of a number of sniper positions around the house to ensure that our cordon wasn’t breached.”

Chief Supt Kenny, head of the internal inquiry, was the liaison officer at the Barr Inquiry into the fatal Abbeylara siege in Co Longford in 2000.

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