The death of Terrence Wheelock is, and was, upsetting. He was a young man from of similar age to me who, in some ways, would be a lot like lads I was in school with and grew up around. The recent findings of the Garda Ombudsman Commission investigation which have cleared the Gardaí of serious wrong-doing has brought the story back into the public eye.
Others have put it better than I ever could; you should read both posts on Human Rights in Ireland.
I only wish to draw attention to this quote from an Access Info report on police forces and public information published late last year;
This finding shows that the laws in most countries are consistent with the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents which makes no exemption for the police, and which states specifically in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Convention that the police fall under the scope of the right to access to official documents.
…[This report] shows that there is just one country in which the police force is entirely exempt from opening its files to the public: The Republic of Ireland.
Gavin also noted the publication of the report on the day.
All that is needed for An Garda Síochána to come under FOI is the signature of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, and some regulations to be implemented. Then we can take our place among such nations as Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan as a country that allows citizens to request information from their police force.
The full report is available in PDF format at this link. Access-Info posted this on the day the report was released. I still hope the family get their inquiry.
4 thoughts on “Terrence Wheelock”
They won’t get an full public inquiry. There’ll be a lot of moaning about the cost of lawyers, and no one wants another Morris. At best, they’ll get a quasi-inquiry like the one into Dean Lyons. And I doubt they’ll get even that. there’s no demand for one. Or have you seen any opposition pressure on this?
Sigh. I know.
It is really shocking that the Guards are protected this way. Presumably the government response is that the Guards are unique in having security within the police force, and not in a seperate body. I am beginning to wonder if there is any benefit to that situation – with every effort to make the Guards more accountable it rears its head.
The combination of policing and intelligence/security with An Garda Siochana is one of the major problems in the force. Most of the problems in Donegal, for example, can all be traced back to the tendency to get confused between intelligence gathering and policing. The messes (not just the McBreartys, but the other cases too) could pretty much have been avoided if the Gardai hadn’t confused intelligence (ie rumour and unsubstantiated claims) with evidence.
It’s worth reading the Canadian experience on this. They realised about 30 years ago that they needed to separate intelligence gathering from the RCMP’s policing function. The royal commission reports on the issue are still worthwhile reading in laying out the problems that arise. Patton did the same thing in his report on the RUC, though it got lost in the noise there because of other issues.
None of that will help Trevor Wheelock’s family though.
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