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Revised: December 01, 2005 .

 

The Irish Times, 4 November 2005:

Former Garda chief threatens action

Mark Hennessey,
Political Correspondent

Former Garda commissioner Laurence Wren has threatened to "take corrective action to clear my name" in relation to one of the Baron inquiry's findings.

Mr Justice Henry BarronMr Justice Barron's report said the question remained as to who actually made the the decision not to pursue information offered by the RUC in January 1979 in relation to Seamus Ludlow's murder.

"The inquiry believes it most probable that the decision was made by deputy commissioner Laurence Wren . . . Before doing so, it is likely that he would have discussed the mater with other senior gardai and possibly senior officials from the Department of Justice.

"However, the absence of files means that this cannot be confirmed."

Det Supt John Courtney, who retired in 1991 as chief superintendent, claimed in 1998 that he had sought permission to interview four men in Northern Ireland in 1979 whom the RUC had identified as suspects but he never received instructions.

Interviewed in 1998 by an internal Garda inquiry into the handling of the case, Mr Courtney said he subsequently contacted Det Sgt Dan Boyle in the Garda's security and intelligence branch.

Det Sgt Boyle, Mr Courtney alleged, told him that the head of the branch, Mr Wren - who subsequently became Garda commissioner - had blocked the interviews.

According to Mr Courtney: "Mr Boyle said that Mr Wren had said that if the four suspects were to be extradited to the Republic of Ireland a similar number of extraditions of IRA suspects would be sought by the RUC and he didn't want this to happen.

"In the light of Mr Wren's directions (verbal) I was prohibited from taking any further action in the case. I was most disappointed and annoyed with the directions of Mr Wren," Mr Courtney said.

In a letter sent to the inquiry three weeks ago, Mr Wren, who served as Garda commissioner between 1983 and 1987, wrote:

Former Garda commissioner Laurence Wren (now retired)"I have no intention  of accepting the conclusions reached by the inquiry in reference to my supposed activities, and if the report is eventually published as it now stands, I will be compelled to take corrective action to clear my name in this matter."

He said a draft inquiry report showed that Supt Courtney did not suggest he had ever approached him in the matter, but had spoken to a junior colleague, Det Sgt Boyle: "A rather curious way, I would suggest, of seeking an important decision. I understand . . . Sgt Boyle does not recall ever having a discussion with the superintendent in this matter. Neither is there  any correspondence to show that such approaches from any source were made to security section".

Despite this, he said, the inquiry had concluded that it was most probable that the decision not to pursue the RUC information was made by him.

"How this conclusion could be reached in view of the foregoing, beggars comprehension (and when Supt Courtney's direct superiors do not appear to have any knowledge of his efforts in his regard)," he wrote.

Mr Wren met Mr Justice Henry Barron in June 2002 and told him he had no recollection of the facts of the case.

However he said he believed he would have remembered the circumstances of this issue if it had been brought to his attention at the time because it would have been "most unusual".


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