Prime Time - 11th September 2012

Wednesday 12 September 2012 16.04
Prime Time - 11th September 2012

Barry Cummins' blog on tonight's programme

Last weekend, the so called Real IRA gave a show of strength on the streets of Donaghmede in north Dublin.

A volley of shots was fired as the coffin of murdered Real IRA man Alan Ryan was being brought from his home at Grange Abbey Drive to the nearby church.

Four men and two women dressed in paramilitary uniforms marched in front of the coffin.

And gardaí did not intervene, citing concerns for public safety.


So what now, as gardaí investigate the brutal murder of Alan Ryan and also seek to investigate the scenes witnessed at his funeral, which the Justice Minister says are unacceptable.


Many people have spoken in recent days about events surrounding Alan Ryan’s murder and his subsequent funeral.


Tonight his family have made their first public comment.


In an exclusive statement to Prime Time, the family of Alan Ryan describe the 31-year-old as a cherished member of their family who is fondly remembered by his mother, his sister and his brothers.


“His murder was a devastating blow and one from which we will never fully recover. We can only try to rebuild our shattered lives and try to make sure that Alan’s daughter grows up to know she had a father who loved her very much even if he is no longer able to tell her himself,” the statement says.


The family state that it is a matter of public record that Alan was an active Irish Republican. The family do not specifically refer to the gunshots fired before the coffin arrived at the church or about those people who were dressed in scarves, berets, sunglasses and army style clothing, but the Ryan family do state that Alan Ryan’s life was a “fitting tribute to the best ideals of Republicanism, as was the manner of his laying to rest. Alan would never have apologised for his beliefs while he was alive and we, his family, have no intention of doing so on his behalf now that he is dead.”


The Ryan family state that the murdered father-of-one was “pilloried by unnamed Garda sources via the print media while he was alive” and this “should also now be a topic of investigation.”


The family claim that at the scene of the murder in Donaghmede last Monday week, “gardaí stood casually by while photographers took pictures of Alan lying on the pavement receiving emergency treatment. Grotesque images were recorded and reproduced by tabloid newspapers underneath lurid headlines that appeared to gloat over Alan’s murder.”


In response, gardaí told me privately tonight that they reject any assertion they were casual in any way at the murder scene. They say they are working diligently to catch the killers who struck in broad daylight. The Garda Press Office said if there is any complaint which the family wish to make they should contact the Garda Ombudsman Commission.


Prime Time
understands that the Ryan family have today sent a letter to the Garda Commissioner saying they wish to make a formal complaint.


Meanwhile, the investigation into Alan Ryan’s murder continues, with one person arrested so far and released without charge.


Separately a significant Garda response is on the cards as detectives investigate the show of force at Alan Ryan’s funeral.


Alan Ryan spent seven years in jail, for possessing a loaded firearm when a teenager, and for being caught in a Real IRA training camp in Co Meath. At the time of his murder he was awaiting trial for allegedly threatening a publican to stop trading.


STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE RYAN FAMILY


“The Ryan family regrets that we are unable to appear on this edition of Prime Time to talk about the murder of our relative, Alan Ryan, but it is simply not possible at this time. Alan was a cherished member of our family and is fondly remembered by his mother, his sister and his brothers. His murder was a devastating blow and one from which we will never fully recover. We can only try to rebuild our shattered lives and try to make sure that Alan’s daughter grows up to know she had a father who loved her very much even if he is no longer able to tell her himself.

It is a matter of public record that Alan was an active Irish Republican. He was proud to be such and to be known as such and we are proud of him for being one. His life was a fitting tribute to the best ideals of Republicanism, as was the manner of his laying to rest. Alan would never have apologised for his beliefs while he was alive and we, his family, have no intention of doing so on his behalf now that he is dead.


As a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, Alan’s murder must be fully investigated and those responsible brought to justice. The extent to which Alan was pilloried by unnamed Garda sources via the print media while he was alive should also now be a topic of investigation.


Our family is deeply upset by the inaction of members of An Garda Síochána at the scene of the shooting immediately after Alan was attacked. Gardaí stood casually by while photographers took pictures of Alan lying on the pavement receiving emergency treatment. Grotesque images were recorded and reproduced by tabloid newspapers underneath lurid headlines that appeared to gloat over Alan’s murder.


We cannot recall another occasion when the dignity of a murder victim was violated so publicly nor of the State’s law enforcement officers permitting it to happen with such obvious disinterest. Formal complaints have been made to the Garda Commissioner about the unprecedented conduct of the Gardaí and to the editors of the relevant newspapers about their decision to publish these images.


Alan’s family and friends will always cherish the short time they had with him and be proud of what he did for his community. The numbers of ordinary people who came to his funeral to pay their respects and say goodbye is the greatest testament to his memory. No-one can ever take that away from him, or us, much as they might try to do so. The legacy of Alan Ryan will live long in the memories of all who knew him and will never be extinguished.”

Robert Shortt blogs ahead of tonight's programme:

Towards the end of 2009, as a bitter winter set in, an agreement was struck between public sector unions and the then Fianna Fail/Green coalition. It would guarantee industrial peace in return for a massive overhaul of the public service. There would be no further pay cuts and no compulsory redundancies. The talks took place in Croke Park and the place name stuck to the new deal.

It was finally ratified and signed in June 2010. Now just over two years into the deal, questions are being raised about its effectiveness and limits.
Over the past week or so, various ministers from the current government have mentioned Croke Park in relation to the savings targeted for their departments. The Agreement has been staunchly defended.

The backdrop is the €3.5billion euro in savings the Government must find under our Troika targets in next year’s Budget. €2.25 billion of this is earmarked to come from cutbacks in public expenditure. Overruns in social protection and health have added to the unpalatable options facing ministers.

There is a clause in the deal (Clause 1.28) which states the implementation of the Agreement is “...subject to no currently unforeseen budgetary deterioration...”
What constitutes ‘unforeseen budgetary deterioration’ is hotly debated.
The union side, echoed by several government ministers, point to Ireland coming under the deficit targets set out in the Memorandum of Agreement agreed with the Troika. Critics say that at 9%, the budget deficit is already too high and that cutbacks are disproportionately affecting frontline services.

It’s also worth noting that in 2010 the Department of Finance forecast the economy would grow this year by 3.25%. It’s now forecasting growth of just 0.7%. So a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ the government had hoped the economy would perform has not been done. That means extra taxes and spending cuts will be felt more acutely. Unemployment was forecast to be 12%; it’s now 14.7%. That has implications for tax revenues and the demand for services from social protection to health.

Also, as the IMF pointed out in its review yesterday, our population will have more children and older people over the next several years with all the consequent demands for public services. So we may have knocked a few points off our budget deficit –and the reasons for that might merit a blog of its own- but it’s a stretch to believe there hasn’t been some unforeseen budgetary deterioration.

But the Croke Park deal is about more than hard economic numbers. It’s about the politics of keeping the fabric of the state together as the economy continues to struggle towards recovery. It’s about demonstrating the value of change in the public service versus the competing reality of how the private sector has had to cope with the recession.

Tonight we explore what the Agreement has delivered. We hear from some who question it. And those who believe it’s delivering real change.
We’ll have more on the Agreement later in the week, including an interview with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin.
Robert Shortt

Prime Time, RTÉ 1, 21:35