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The Blue Wall of Silence: The Morris Tribunal and Police Accountability in Ireland


Vicky Conway

This book raises crucial questions of Garda Síochána reform and governance. What effect has the Morris Tribunal really had? It is a substantial contribution to National and International debates.


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ISBN: 9780716530305 Categories: ,


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 institutionalised activities in the Donegal division of Síochána 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 Síochána, 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 Síochána 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 Síochána, asking not just whether it has held the Gardaí involved to account, but also what impact it has had on both the accountability apparatus and broader public and political attitudes towards an Garda Síochána. 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.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Road to Morris
  3.  Findings and Recommendation
  4.  Talking About Morris
  5.  Reforming the Gardaí
  6.  Held to Account? Tribunals and Policing

About the Author

Vicky Conway is Lecturer in Law at the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. She has published on issues such as police accountability, responses to gangland crime and miscarriages of justice.