New Book on the Morris Tribunal and Police Accountability in Ireland
A new book by one of our regular contributors, Vicky Conway, has been published this week by Irish Academic Press. Entitled The Blue Wall of Silence: The Morris Tribunal and Police Accountability in the Republic of Ireland, it provides the first in-depth analysis of the impact of the most significant tribunal in the history of policing in Ireland. For those not familiar with the Tribunal, it examined and upheld serious allegations of negligence and corruption in the policing district of Donegal concerning the framing of two men for a murder when in fact the victim had died in a hit and run incident, the planting of hoax IRA bomb finds, the planting of weapons on a travellers halting site and the planting of an explosive device on a telecommunications mast.
The book aims to assess a number of different issues which emerge from this Tribunal which lasted for over six years, completing its work in October 2008. First, it examines in depth the process by which the information came to light and questions why it took the government until 2002 to establish the Tribunal when it was aware of concerns in early 1997. Second, it provides a clear overview of the findings of the Tribunal which were published in 8 reports and over 4,000 pages. Third, it examines the media coverage and discourse of the Tribunal followed by consideration of the political debate concerning the Tribunal. The reforms introduced in recent years are analysed in terms of the recommendations of the Tribunal. Finally, in assessing the impact of the Tribunal, Conway argues that while the Morris Tribunal itself provided a critical account of policing in Ireland of a type never before seen, the opportunity to spark the necessary debate and institute fundamental reforms was lost. In his foreword to the book, Prof Dermot Walsh has stated:
In her outstanding book Vicky Conway assesses the impact of the Morris Tribunal on policing and police accountability in Ireland. Commendably, she manages to distil the essence of Morris’ findings, analysis and recommendations into an accessible package that loses none of their importance and punch. Indeed, she contributes substantially to our understanding of their significance by weaving them seamlessly into the wider social, political and historical context of policing in Ireland, and by locating them within the broader international literature on the science of police governance and accountability. Her analysis reveals how Morris, guided throughout by the seminal values of police accountability in a legal and parliamentary democracy, delivered the results that the established institutional mechanisms had so patently failed to deliver. In a clinical and compelling manner she goes on to show how the media, the government, the political parties and the Garda have combined to frustrate the longer term accountability dividends that could and should have resulted.
Information on the forthcoming launch of the book will be provided in a future blog post.