There have been calls on the Garda Commissioner, Noel Conroy, to reverse his decision to allow two senior garda officers, who were strongly criticised in the second report of the Morris Tribunal, to retire from the force next month.  

The Fine Gael MEP, Senator Jim Higgins, condemned as the decision as outrageous. 

The two men, Supt Joseph Shelly and Det Supt John McGinley, met the Garda Commissioner yesterday.  

In his report, Mr Justice Frederick Morris said the two officers and other senior gardaí were at fault for what he called a prejudiced and negligent investigation into the death of the Donegal cattle dealer, Richie Barron.

In a statement today, Senator Higgins said the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner should not accept the resignations, but should suspend both officers pending an examination of the Morris file by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has said the only lesson Michael McDowell has learned from the McBrearty affair has been from his Fianna Fáil colleagues in Government that when in trouble, shift the blame and smear the opposition.

He said that according to the evidence to the Morris Tribunal, it was not until the end of April 1999 that a detailed submission on the Donegal issue was made to senior management and the Minister.

McBreartys are owed an apology: McDowell

Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, has confirmed that the State will give a solemn apology to the McBrearty family - on behalf of the State and successive Governments - after the way they were 'framed' by gardaí for offences they did not commit.

He said he believed the apology would be delivered by letter to the McBreartys, as well as a number of other families in Donegal, after the facts relating to the case were out in the open.

He said he could not imagine that members of the Rainbow Government between 1995 and 1997, on whose watch these events took place, would have any objection to a full apology being made.

He said the miscarriage of justice was organised and perpetrated at that time.

Mr McDowell also rejected a claim by Frank McBrearty Jnr that the Tribunal deliberately chose not to reveal material in relation to the Carty Report.

Mr McDowell announced last night that he is to concede liability in the case being taken by Mr McBrearty, who is pleading wrongful arrest. The case is due before the courts next month. 

There are up to 40 similar compensation claims lodged, so the State will be facing a record compensation bill to people wrongfully arrested and harassed by Donegal-based gardaí.