Garda corruption: families' fears on unsolved murders after arrests of gardai and sports figure

The Garda division at the centre of an inquiry into alleged corruption in the force is coming under pressure from families who want the investigations into the unsolved murders and disappearances of loved ones to be reviewed.

A superintendent, an inspector and a detective garda were arrested in May, and a fourth suspect, a civilian sports figure suspected of acting as go-between, was arrested last Thursday. All have been released without charge.

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The fall-out of the corruption inquiry has generated unease among several families who now question whether more could have been done to pursue the deaths and disappearances of their loved ones.

The father of one murder victim killed more than a decade ago said he believed the corruption probe has damaged trust in the force, with several families in the region now questioning whether the unsolved crimes were adequately investigated.

The father has claimed that fresh information about his son’s murder has been shaken out since news of the corruption inquiry first emerged in January and he now wanted the investigation into his son’s killing to be taken over by the Garda cold case unit that reviews historic crimes.

He told the Sunday Independent: “I have no trust in them any more. I want it [the case] to be taken out of the station. I want the cold case unit to go through everything in that case again.”

The mother of a teenage victim who vanished and was later found murdered is questioning the inquiry into her son’s killing, also more than a decade ago. The crime remains unsolved, but the teenager’s mother claims she has not received an update on her son’s case in “five or six years.” She said she will be seeking a meeting with Garda management in the coming weeks.

The family of a third young man whose remains were recovered years after he disappeared have recently written to senior Garda management to express their concerns about the investigation in his case.

The three families contacted by the Sunday Independent cannot be named as to do so would identify the Garda district, and potentially the gardai who are under investigation.

The families are not alleging corruption but rather they say trust in the investigative process has been undermined by the ongoing probe in the region into alleged collusion between gardai and an organised crime gang.

The unsolved cases they are highlighting are among a number of outstanding murders and missing persons cases that were investigated out of the station where two of the three suspect gardai were posted at the time of their arrests last May.

The latest arrest of a man in his 50s last Thursday marks a further widening of the highly sensitive investigation by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations (NBCI) that began late last year after gardai became concerned that criminal targets were getting tipped off about planned drugs operations and raids.

The NBCI investigation initially focused on a detective, who was arrested and questioned in January on suspicion that he accepted a €20,000 bribe from criminals in return for confidential Garda information. Two higher-ranking officers, a recently promoted inspector and a superintendent, came to the attention of investigators.

All three were arrested in May, the detective for the second time. The detective was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, the superintendent for the alleged unauthorised disclosure of information and the Garda inspector on suspicion of breaches of the misuse of drugs act. The sporting figure is suspected of acting as a link between the organised crime gang and a suspect garda. Aged in his 50s, he is suspected of having ties to criminals. The organised crime gang that is suspected to have benefited from the information is involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.

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