[Sinn Fein]

27 November 2002

``Tribunal must probe Garda investigation of Donegal SF councillor's murder'' - Ó Caoláin

Sinn Fein Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called for the terms of reference of the Morris Tribunal to be extended to cover the events surrounding the murder of Donegal Sinn Fein Councillor Eddie Fullerton in 1991 and the inadequate garda investigation. One of the gardai centrally involved in the investigation is now facing serious allegations before the Morris Tribunal.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

The amendment to the motion in the name of the Sinn Fein deputies centres on the murder of our colleague, Sinn Fein County Councillor Eddie Fullerton, in his home in Buncrana, County Donegal on 25 May 1991. We have put down this amendment because, like Eddie Fullerton's family, to whom we extend our continuing sympathy, we do not believe that a proper investigation into his murder has been carried out by the Garda Síochána. Given the web of corruption in the gardai in Donegal, over an extended period of years, and now being exposed daily at the Morris Tribunal, we believe their conduct in this case must be thoroughly examined.

Eddie Fullerton was a dear friend of mine and one of the most popular public representatives in the country. He was highly respected across the political spectrum in his native County of Donegal. His energy, his honesty, his commitment to people, drew others to him instinctively. The day before Eddie was murdered he was elated because it was officially confirmed that a project he had pioneered as a lone voice for years was finally about to become a reality. The Fullerton-Pollen dam stands as a lasting memorial to a man who believed his community, his county and his country deserved the best.

There are many unanswered questions about the murder of Eddie Fullerton. Most relevant to the Morris Tribunal is the conduct of the Garda investigation ? to the extent that there was a Garda investigation at all. Eddie's family point out that on the one hand a comprehensive forensic examination of the scene of the murder was not carried out. On the other hand the gardai took away notebooks, cassettes and other material from Eddie's home and car immediately after his death in a manner indicating an investigation of the victim, not of his killers. The distress of the bereaved Fullerton family was deepened when they discovered this, since the gardai initially denied that the material in question had been removed. Two official garda bags containing some of Eddie's belongings were eventually returned to the family by gardai. But to this day the family maintains that all of the material has not been returned. Nor have they been kept informed of the progress of the investigation.

About a month before Eddie's death a very suspicious incident took place when two men posing as charity collectors called to his home. While returning to the door with a donation, Eddie discovered one of them descending the stairs. The strong suspicion is that they were carrying out a check on security in the Fullerton home preparatory to the murder. There were other indications of detailed surveillance. Some years after the killing, Eddie's son Albert found the remains of a camouflaged shelter or hide in a field with a clear view of the Fullerton home.

It is of grave concern that at least one garda now under scrutiny and facing very serious allegations before the Morris Tribunal was himself centrally involved in the investigation of the murder of Eddie Fullerton. This is even more alarming when we place it in a wider context. There are strong indications that, like virtually all attacks claimed or carried out by loyalist paramilitaries in this jurisdiction, the murder of Eddie Fullerton could not have been carried out without collusion from British forces. The assassins entered and left the Fullerton home in the early hours of the morning with ease. They were obviously thoroughly familiar with the area and made their getaway without hitch. They certainly had detailed local knowledge. Did they have local assistance?

The Fullerton family deserves the truth. They deserve justice and I urge support for our amendment to extend the terms of reference of the Morris Tribunal to address their case.

We fully support the motion in the name of the Labour deputies. The terms of reference must be extended and a fair arrangement on costs should be made with the McBrearty family. Top Garda management, the Minister and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform must be answerable to the Tribunal for their response to this massive scandal. The McBrearty family and others deserve nothing less than unhindered access to truth and justice.

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