Terence Wheelock and Garda Accountability
Mark Coughlan of TheSory.ie has this afternoon published an extensive and illuminating post on the version of the Terence Wheelock report that was released to the family. As we noted here and here, this version differs in some respects from the version that was publically released. In this post, Mark notes that one of the Gardaí involved in the Wheelock incident had previously been subjected to disciplinary procedures in respect of a strikingly similar set of events where a young man was physically assaulted upon arrest. A very interesting aspect of Mark’s post is his illustration of how difficult it is to get any information about disciplinary proceedings within an Garda Síochána or to ensure any level of transparency in this respect. Mark concludes as follows:
To the detriment of the public interest the Garda Siochana remains a closed, secretive, impenetrable organisation whose members are largely unaccountable to the public which they serve. Ashamedly our police force is the only one in western Europe which falls outside the Freedom of Information process.
The family of Terence Wheelock are calling for a full and open investigation into the circumstances of his death. As we noted here, Vicky‘s new book (The Blue Wall of Silence: The Morris Tribunal and Police Accountability in Ireland) is released this week and deals also with accountability in policing in Ireland. These difficulties of accountability and transparency are recurring in respect of the Gardaí and investigative journalism such Mark’s as well as scholarship such as Vicky’s are fundamental to trying to break down that ‘Blue Wall of Silence’.