Barr Tribunal Report Index
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 1 - Introduction
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 2 - Terms of Reference and Interpretation
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 3 - John Carthy - Background
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 4 - The Events of 19th and 20th April 2000
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 5 - The Final Minutes — John Carthy’s Exit from the House and Subsequent Fatal Shooting
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 6 - The Management of the Incident at Abbeylara — Siege Management Principles
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 7 - The Aftermath — Post-Mortem, Forensic and Ballistic Examination
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 8 - Conclusions
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 9 - The Media
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 10 - Rank and Structure in the Garda Siochana and the Role of the Emergency Response Unit
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 11 - Less Lethal Weapons
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 12 - Police Practice in Other Jurisdictions
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 13 - Gun licensing Law and related matters
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 14 - Victim Provoked Police Shooting — ‘‘Suicide by Cop’’
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 15 - Recommendations
Barr Tribunal Report Chapter 16 - Costs
Barr Tribunal Report Appendix 1
Barr Tribunal Report Appendix 2
Barr Tribunal Report Appendix 3
Barr Tribunal Report Appendix 4
Barr Tribunal Report Appendix 7


Terms of Reference and Interpretation

1.       Resolutions of Da´il E´ireann and Seanad E´ireann

‘‘By Resolutions passed by Da´il E´ireann and Seanad E´ireann on respectively 1 7th and 1 8th of April, 2002, a Tribunal was established under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts, 1921 to 2002 to inquire into the following definite matter of urgent public importance:

— the facts and circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of John Carthy at Abbe ylara, Co. Longford on 20th April, 2000;

and to report to the Clerk of Da´il E´ireann and to make such findings and recommendations as it sees fit in relation to these matters.’’

A full text of the Terms of Reference is incorporated in the opening statement of the Chairman contained in Appendix 1 to this Report.

2.       Opening Statement of the Tribunal

In my Opening Statement of 7th January, 2003, I outlined a number of issues, facts and questions which it was proposed to address in a series of modules (see Appendix 1 for details). These were stated not to be exhaustive. As the evidence progressed further issues arose which required to be addressed by the Tribunal from time to time.

It will be observed that my Opening Statement also contained the following passage:

The Tribunal’s Report

Having considered all of the evidence, including relevant documentation and expert advice, the Tribunal will publish a report the first part of which will deal with the matters raised in each of the first four modules referred to herein and the Tribunal’s assessment of the facts and of the performance of those who participated in events at Abbe ylara up to the fatal shooting of John Carthy on 20th April, 2000. [The aftermath of the deceased’s death will be referred to also in the report.]

The second part of the report will review and may contain recommendations on two matters which arise out of the events surrounding the death of Mr. Carthy and matters pertaining to the fifth and sixth modules:

(a) Changes in statute law relating to gun licences and possession of firearms by members of the public, including the possible introduction of an obligation on applicants for gun licences (including

renewals thereof) to furnish written medical reports in a prescribed form completed by a medical practitioner in active practice certifying the mental fitness of the applicant to obtain a gun licence and to possess a firearm, and possible requirements directed to medical practitioners and others who have reasonable grounds for believing that a gun licensee has a mental illness, psychiatric disturbance or other disability which renders him/her unfit to hold a gun licence and to possess a firearm having regard to the risk of injury to the licensee and others.

(b) Possible recommendations regarding the training and organisation of Garda officers, including the Emergency Response Unit, in dealing with dangerous situations such as that which was presented by John Carthy at Abbe ylara, arising out of mental illness, psychiatric disturbance or other similar disablement.

3.          Media Module

During the course of the evidence to the Tribunal, issues arose in relation to the media handling of the incident at Abbeylara. Specifically it was contended that an RTE´ Radio One broadcast, being part of the ‘‘Five/Seven Live’’ evening news and current affairs programme on 20th April, 2000 constituted an intrusion into the process upon which the Garda Sı´ocha´na had embarked in attempting to peacefully resolve the incident. RTE´ was put on notice of this allegation and subsequently sought and was granted representation in a ruling of the Tribunal made on 20th May, 2003 establishing a media module. The extent and scope of the inquiry was further ruled upon by the Tribunal on 24th March, 2004 and 9th July, 2004. The matters addressed by the Tribunal in this regard are contained in Chapter 9. In that chapter the Tribunal also refers to issues arising out of a story relating to the Abbeylara investigation published by the Sunday Independent on 31st October, 2004. The Chairman’s ruling thereon is contained in Appendix 7. K.

All other statements and rulings of the Tribunal are contained in Appendix 7 to this Report.

4.          The Tribunal’s Memorandum on Procedures

The Tribunal prepared and adopted a Memorandum on Procedures which is contained in Appendix 2.

During the course of its preliminary investigations the Tribunal was furnished with over 200 witness statements, the vast majority of which were taken by members of the Garda Sı´ocha´na during the course of an investigation carried out by Chief Superintendent (now Assistant Commissioner) Adrian Culligan. Potentially relevant witnesses were furnished with copies of their statements and requested to consider them and to clarify or add any matter deemed to be of relevance. In addition the Tribunal was furnished with documentation submitted to the Oireachtas Sub-Committee established to investigate the Abbeylara Incident. This documentation

was supplied to the Tribunal following the passing of appropriate resolutions of both Houses of the Oireachtas. The Tribunal was also furnished with further information by the Garda Sı´ocha´na, interested parties, members of the public and by experts retained by the Tribunal during the course of the investigation.

5.            Parties Granted Representation

The Tribunal had power at its discretion to grant legal representation to individuals and bodies who appeared to be substantially connected or associated with or affected by the death of John Carthy on 20th April, 2000 at Abbeylara, Co. Longford. Such individuals or groups included the Garda Commissioner; the family of the late Mr. Carthy; the Emergency Response Unit of the Garda Sı´ocha´na and other Garda officers who were present at the scene during events at and about the Carthy home on 1 9th and 20th April, 2000 or who were commanded by officers there at that time; and medical doctors who had some involvement in events at Abbeylara and/or who had treated Mr. Carthy for psychiatric disturbance prior to his death.

Some parties granted representation had an interest in a limited amount of modules only, for example Module 6 relating to possible amendment of existing gun law, including the possible creation of statutory obligations affecting relevant medical, legal and sporting organisations. Such bodies were granted legal representation limited to possible changes in the law affecting those whom they represented.

A full list of parties granted representation before the Tribunal is contained in Appendix 3 to this Report.

6.            Opening Statements of Counsel

Opening statements were made by counsel for the Tribunal on the commencement of various modules. In the interest of the Carthy family and other friends and neighbours of the late John Carthy, the formal opening of the Inquiry by counsel for the Tribunal took place at the County Council Chambers in Longford on 12th February, 2003. The courthouse in Longford was not available as it was closed pending major reconstruction and renovation. It was not possible to conduct the entire Inquiry in Longford as there was not sufficient accommodation continuously available there and consequently the hearings were held in the Tribunal’s premises in Dublin.

7.            The Evidence of Police and Medical experts

The Tribunal was assisted by a number of medical experts and also overseas police experts, details of whom are as follows:

1.           Mr. Alan Bailey, firearms expert and retired Superintendent with the West Mercia Police Constabulary, UK.

2.           Dr. Ian McKenzie, retired Superintendent with the London Metropolitan Police, forensic and occupational psychologist.

3.           Mr. Frederick Lanceley, police negotiator, formerly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, USA.

4.           Mr. Ray Shuey, Assistant Commissioner, Victoria Police, Australia. Mr. Shuey retired from that position in 2003.

5.           Mr. Robert Leatherdale, former Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

6.           Superintendent Neville Matthews, New Zealand Police Force.

7.           Sergeant David Lee, police expert in the use of dogs, West Mercia Constabulary, UK.

8.           Dr. John Sheehan, Consultant Psychiatrist, Mater Hospital, Dublin.

9.           Dr. Douglas Turkington, Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Type, UK.

10.       Professor Jack Phillips, Consultant Neurosurgeon, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.

All represented parties were invited to submit reports from experts.

To this end the Commissioner of An Garda Sı´ocha´na proposed and evidence was given by the following witnesses who were adopted as witnesses to the Tribunal:

1.           Dr. Harry Kennedy, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Central Mental Hospital, Dublin.

2.           Professor Tom Fahy, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, UK. The Carthy family proposed:

1.           Mr. Michael Burdis, retired Detective Chief Superintendent, South Yorkshire Police, UK.

2.           Professor Christopher Milroy, University of Sheffield, also pathologist attached to the Home Office, UK.

Dr. David Shanley proposed:

1. Professor Kevin Malone, Department of Psychiatry, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin

A brief synopsis of the Curriculum Vitae of expert witnesses who gave evidence to the Tribunal (along with an introduction to other key persons who gave evidence) is contained in Appendix 4 to this Report.

In relation to the reports of the experts retained by the Tribunal, they were prepared on the basis of documentation provided by the Tribunal, including statements of all relevant witnesses, transcripts of relevant evidence and, where appropriate, documents (including training and medical records) discovered to the Tribunal.

The experts’ reports were circulated to all represented parties likely to be affected by the contents thereof. They were invited to propose experts in reply and to furnish any reports upon which they intended to rely. In addition, parties and individuals likely to be affected by any observations, comments or conclusions in the reports were afforded the opportunity to examine the experts and also to address any issues raised. Further, in the light of the evidence received by the Tribunal, parties likely to be affected by issues arising therefrom received letters seeking further clarification and/or answers to various questions posed by the Tribunal. These issues, and matters arising out of the reports of experts, were addressed by witnesses when recalled to give further testimony.

The Tribunal acknowledges and appreciates the assistance afforded to it by all experts, i.e., those retained by the Tribunal and others proposed by the parties.

The Tribunal also wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the assistance of Professor John Harbison, former State Pathologist, who gave evidence to the Tribunal.