Irish police 'staged arms finds'

A judicial inquiry into alleged police corruption in Ireland has found that two officers staged bogus discoveries of IRA weapons to advance their careers.

Superintendent Kevin Lennon and Detective Garda Noel McMahon orchestrated the planting of ammunition and hoax explosives in Strabane, County Tyrone and County Donegal, the report by the tribunal led by Justice Frederick Morris said.

The Morris tribunal also found that the two policemen lied to the inquiry.

The 554-page report noted that senior garda management had failed to uncover the two men's activity and that this negligence had enabled the hoaxes to continue.

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the report's findings represented "dark day for the Garda Siochana", the Irish police force in County Donegal in the 1990s.

Mr McDowell said the events were "frightening and unprecedented", adding that he would be writing to Superintendent Lennon to ask for further submissions before his fate was to be decided.

Instant best-seller

"The entire story told by Detective Garda McMahon and by Superintendent Lennon was a cover-up," Justice Morris wrote.

"A huge amount of tribunal time was wasted in attempting to get to the bottom of the lies told by them," he added.

The report proved to be an instant best-seller, with people queuing outside the government bookshops in Dublin to get a copy.

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy will decide Detective McMahon's future.

However, he said he had absolute confidence in the garda commissioner who will now have to address the failings of the force and implement the report's recommendations.

The Morris tribunal was set up two years ago to examine allegations of corruption in County Donegal.

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