Dail justice group eyes Sallins inquiry as United Nations selects review experts

Padraig Conlon 23 May 2022
(Left to Right) Sallins Men Osgur Breatnach, Nicky Kelly, Oisín McNally ( representing Brian McNally) and Michael Barrett.

The United Nations Torture Committee has opened a file on the Sallins Case following receipt of a 100-page petition from KRW Law on behalf of the Sallins Men.

It claims ‘ongoing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment being inflicted on the Sallins Men.’

The petition also calls on UNCAT to hold its own inquiry into the Sallins Case, in view of the Irish State’s refusal to do so.

The UN is now selecting a group of human rights experts representing different cultural and global backgrounds to review the application.

A timeline of a few months is usual for reviews.


Also reviewing the Sallins Case, and policing in general, are members of the all- party Dáil Justice Committee.

(Left to Right) Colm O’Gorman Amnesty International, Liam Herrick Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Kevin Winters KRW Law

A packed press conference (Buswell Hotel, May 19th) announcing the UN submission heard from James Lawless (FF), Justice Committee chair, and other Committee members on the need to review historic policing.

Also, at the press conference were RTE’s Mick Peelo and John Downes, researcher and producer of the significant Crimes and Confessions true crime series that has garnered almost 40% of Irish television viewers.

The conference was address by Amnesty International’s Colm O’Gorman, Liam Herrick of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Kevin Winters of KRW LAW.

Colm O’Gorman said “Amnesty has called for an independent inquiry into what these men experienced in garda custody, and during their trial.

“Their credible claims of serious ill-treatment at the hands of gardaí were never properly and impartially investigated.

“Ireland took the UK to the European Court of Human Rights in 1978 for its ill-treatment of the Hooded Men case during their interrogation.

“It is time for the Irish government to finally live up to its own human rights obligations of truth, justice and redress in the Sallins case.”

Liam Herrick of the ICCL said: “We have always been clear that until we get to the bottom of the appalling human rights violations suffered by these men, those violations continue.

“Justice cannot be served until there is accountability for the mistreatment, harassment, and miscarriages of justice that these men and their families have suffered.

“The issues at stake in the Sallins case remain so serious that they are also of wider relevance to contemporary questions of Garda reform.

“As the Government now brings forward historic proposals to implement the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, ICCL believes it is more important than ever that we have full closure on the most serious abuses of police power from the past before we can build public confidence in the future of the Garda.”

Kevin Winters (KRW LAW) explained that Ireland has signed up to international treaties under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the European Convention of Human Rights to investigate allegations of torture promptly and to identify and punish torturers.

An excuse for inactivity on the part of the Irish State, that compensation was paid in the cases, is false and does not negate their obligation to hold an inquiry.

Comments supporting the UN initiative came from Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats and Martin Kenny of Sinn Féin.


Also attending the press conference were Michael Barrett, Nicky Kelly, Osgur Breatnach and Oisín McNally, son of Brian McNally who was too ill to attend.

Also too ill to attend was John Fitzpatrick.

Condolences were offered to the family and friends of Michael Plunket, the first of the Sallins Men to die awaiting justice in the Sallins Case.

The presence of Oisín McNally shows the trauma of the Sallins Case passing to another generation and the fact that the passing of time will not prevent the eventual establishment of a public inquiry into the Sallins Case.

Supporting the UN initiative also are the Committee for the Administration of Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre.

This means all non-government Irish human rights organisations are now supporting the demand for an impartial public inquiry into the Sallins Case.

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