TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has said the government needs to be given space to fully consider a dossier alleging garda incompetence - or worse - in the case of Jerry McGrath, who murdered Sylvia Roche Kelly in the Clarion Hotel in 2007.
Speaking in Limerick, Deputy Gilmore said concerns raised by whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe on the handling of several cases - including McGrath’s - were being “taken very seriously” by government. But he declined to discuss any individual case.
No allegations of malpractice have been levelled against gardai in Limerick. But the Garda Ombudsman Commission did reportedly recommend disciplinary action against officers in Tipperary and Cavan for their handling of Jerry McGrath.
From Dundrum, County Tipperary, McGrath assaulted taxi driver Mary Lynch in Virginia, County Cavan, in April 2007. He was charged with common assault and released on station bail.
In October 2007, McGrath broke into a house in Tipperary and attempted to abduct a young girl. He was granted bail by a judge in Tipperary despite Garda objections. But the District Court judge was not informed that McGrath was already on bail for the Cavan assault.
While on bail, McGrath murdered Sixmilebridge mother Sylvia Roche Kelly in the Clarion Hotel in Limerick on December 8, 2007.
The deceased woman’s family is taking a High Court case against the state, arguing McGrath should never have been on bail at the time of the murder.
The McGrath case is also included in Sgt McCabe’s dossier, which Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin passed to the Taoiseach last week. Deputy Martin has also alleged that Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s department has been in possession of the dossier for two years.
Asked whether Sylvia Roche Kelly’s family should get compensation from the state, the Tanaiste said “I don’t want to talk about any individual case. We take the issue very seriously”.
Deputy Gilmore said he would be discussing the cases with the Taoiseach and the government would consider the matters fully.
“I think, in fairness, we have to have some period of time to do that,” he said.
Details of the Jerry McGrath case have been in the public domain for months and the Tanaiste was asked whether it was good enough that the government was only now reviewing matters after they had been raised by the leader of the opposition.
“I’m really not going to talk about the individual elements of the dossier,” he repeated.
“We are looking at it; we are taking it very seriously and we will deal with it.”
The Tanaiste also expressed his confidence in Minister Shatter.