The family of former garda commissioner Larry Wren has denied that he would have allowed the Archbishop of Dublin to dictate garda policy. The late commissioner’s son in law Joe McConville told RTE radio’s Liveline that the Wren family was distressed at the way in which he was being portrayed in the media.
He was responding (on behalf of his wife Mary) to allegations in the Majella Moynihan case which claimed that Commissioner Wren had succumbed to pressure from the hierarchy not to dismiss her from the force for having a child out of wedlock as that would have led to others going to the UK for abortions.
Mr McConville said that while Mr Wren had been deeply religious there was no way he would have gone to the Archbishop ‘cap in hand’ or that he would have operated ‘hand in glove’ with the church as had been suggested.
The Roman Catholic church did not dictate standards in the garda at that time, “that is an outrageous allegation to make,” he said.
The Commissioner would not have taken instruction from the Roman Catholic church about the running of the Garda Siochana. Mr McConville added that Mr Wren and his wife Maureen were very close and he went home every day for lunch and dinner, if had gone to the Archbishop’s palace he would certainly have mentioned it to her.
It was enormous leap of faith to believe that the archbishop had been dictating garda policy, he said. To make such a digestion was outrageous not just for the Commissioner and his family, but also to other rank and file members.
This is a very personal upset by a portrayal in the public domain that he cannot answer back.
Mr McConville thought it unusual that the comment did not come until after the Commissioner’s wife died last year. “I believe she would have known if he had been called to the Archbishop’s palace.”
The Commissioner had been a very fair and firm man, very disciplined and would not have walked into a trap, he said. “The past is not a nice place and you can’t judge it by today’s standards.”
The family was upset that their father and grandfather’s name was being dragged through the mud and the suggestion that he did not act with compassion.
“The allegation doesn’t sit with his character.”