The Blue Wall of Silence

The Morris Tribunal and Police Accountability in Ireland

By Vicky Conway

Framing two men for a murder that never occurred. Orchestrating fake IRA bomb 'finds' either side of the border. Planting guns and drugs. False arrests, abuse of detainees, and securing false confessions. These were the institutionalized activities in the Donegal division of Siochana that were the subject of a landmark tribunal conducted by Justice Morris. In October 2008, after six years, the Morris Tribunal completed its work. Its findings catalogued corruption, negligence, misconduct, and 'a blue wall of silence' in an Garda Siochana, on an unprecedented scale. The reports also highlight the inadequacies of existing accountability systems that were reformed substantially mid-way through the work of the Tribunal, by the Garda Siochana Act 2005. The findings and recommendations of the Tribunal are particularly striking in a country where public confidence in the police has historically been exceptionally high, and criticisms of the police slow to be aired. The Blue Wall of Silence questions what contribution the Tribunal has made to the accountability of the Garda Siochana, asking not just whether it has held the Gardai involved to account, but also what impact it has had on both the accountability apparatus and broader public and political attitudes towards an Garda Siochana. Has the Tribunal fundamentally altered perceptions of the Irish police or has its work been dismissed as a blip caused by a few rotten apples? Justice Morris warned that, without substantial reform, the activities documented could reoccur elsewhere in Ireland. Has a sufficient level of reform been achieved? In addressing these questions, the book makes a substantial contribution to national and international debates on police accountability, raising within democratic societies the crucial relationships between official inquiries, policy reform, and police governance.


242 pages

Publication Date: 4/1/2010
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9780716530305