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Tragic Garda officer’s son urges all-island truth and reconciliation process

Garda Richard Fallon was the first member of the Irish police force to be murdered since 1942 when he was killed by republicans in Dublin in 1970.

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Garda Richard Fallon was the first officer killed in the Troubles (family handout/PA)

Garda Richard Fallon was the first officer killed in the Troubles (family handout/PA)

Garda Richard Fallon was the first officer killed in the Troubles (family handout/PA)

The son of the first Garda officer killed in the Troubles has called for an all-island truth and reconciliation process.

Garda Richard Fallon was shot on Arran Quay in Dublin in the course of a bank robbery by members of Saor Eire, a republican terrorist group.

The 43-year-old’s murder sparked outrage and O’Connell Street was lined with mourners on the day of his funeral.

Half a century on, a ceremony had been planned with the unveiling of a plaque to mark the 50th anniversary of his murder. However due to the coronavirus crisis, that has been postponed.

Garda Fallon and his family
The police officer, pictured with his family (Family handout/PA)

Garda Fallon’s son Finian told the PA News Agency it sparked such a reaction as it was the first death of an Irish policeman on duty since 1942.

“People compared it to John F Kennedy’s funeral in terms of the size, people were lining O’Connell Street to support him,” Mr Fallon said.

“I was four at the time – I remember bits of it, remember walking up to the graveyard, coats all around me, I threw a daffodil in after the coffin.”

Mr Fallon said he does not expect justice, but simply wants to know the truth and has called for an all-Ireland truth and reconciliation process.

“I don’t expect to be made whole by the process, but I do think the government and others should acknowledge what went on … unfortunately the state hasn’t acknowledged its part yet and I think it is somewhat cowardly, to be honest,” he said.

It's just gone on so long, people are dying, people are ill, I think time is running out for any kind of justice to be done.Finian Fallon

“There is a peace but it’s not necessarily peace for the victims. The victims are still living with their suffering.

“It’s unfortunate and disrespectful to those who suffered that they are not given a full account of what went on.”

Mr Fallon said there was controversy from the start over where the guns which killed his father had come from.

The same year saw the “Arms Crisis” during which Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney were dismissed as cabinet ministers for alleged involvement in a conspiracy to smuggle arms to the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.

Neither were convicted, with charges against Mr Blaney dropped while Mr Haughey and the other alleged conspirators were found not guilty.

Finian Fallon said time is running out for ‘justice to be done’ (Family handout/PA)

“There were allegations made in the Dail that the guns that killed him came from government sources,” Mr Fallon said.

“It’s just gone on so long, people are dying, people are ill, I think time is running out for any kind of justice to be done.

“I think there should be an all-island or across-the-islands truth and reconciliation process, not just this kind of piecemeal, delayed reaction. It’s just not working as far as I am concerned, from a victim’s perspective.

“The South African model has been very much criticised but I think that information is very important for us to know what went on and when it went on.

“There is an Irish government file on his death which has not been fully released yet. The government released some of it to an author a few years ago.

“As far as I am concerned, my father’s death was part of the arms trial chronology, I don’t believe the arms trial would have taken place if he hadn’t been killed. I have been told that my father’s death was the beginning of the end for arms imports.

“I would like to have a formal statutory-based process of truth recovery that would be held in the open, and be open and transparent.”

Mr Fallon, the youngest of five siblings, said his father’s death destroyed his family.

“I can remember standing on his feet as he was walking backwards, the way you do with your father, I remember his rough old-style Garda uniform, I’m told I used to speak to him from my cot and continued to do so after he died for a few months,” he said.

“My mother never really recovered from his death, she was destroyed by it.”

PA