Irish Independent

Top cop resigns after 'corrupt' inquiry

THE GARDA officer who was in charge of the Donegal division when some of his members were engaged in corruption is quitting the force.

Chief Superintendent Denis Fitzpatrick, accused by the Morris Tribunal of being grossly negligent and facing severe disciplinary action, disclosed yesterday that he was resigning.

He became the first casualty of the devastating first report from the Morris Tribunal, which is examining corrupt practices in Donegal during the 1990s.

Mr Fitzpatrick announced his intention during a meeting with Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy, who had summoned him to discuss the contents of the report in his office at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

His resignation from the force is to take effect from September 1.

Mr Fitzpatrick's position had been under mounting pressure since the publication of the report on Thursday, as he is currently head of the national traffic policy bureau. He was one of six members of the force in Donegal to be shifted to other duties by then commissioner Pat Byrne, although it was stated at the time that the moves should not be seen as an indication of wrongdoing.

Also moved to headquarters was Supt Kevin Lennon, who was found to have told lies to the tribunal and corruptly orchestrated the planting of ammunition and hoax explosives in Donegal and Strabane in 1993 and 1994. Similar findings were brought against Det Garda Noel McMahon of Letterkenny station, and the two men are under suspension at present.

Commissioner Conroy yesterday served notice on Garda McMahon of his intention to dismiss him from the force on the grounds that he was considered unfit to be retained. He was given a few weeks to respond to the notice.

This was the first move to be taken on foot of the report by Commissioner Conroy, who had pledged on Thursday that he would move expeditiously to deal with the findings.

It is understood that he intends to meet individually with other officers accused in the report of possible breaches of discipline as each case is examined by a working group he set up under Deputy Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald.

On Thursday, Justice Minister Michael McDowell wrote to Supt Lennon, inviting his comments on the report, and these will be taken into account when his fate is determined by the Government at a Cabinet meeting in early September.

Tom Brady
Security Editor

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