As THE FlANNA FAIL TDs and Ministers walked behind Bill Loughnane's coffin in late Octtober 1983 and stood by his grave, some pondered the prospect of anoother general election. Padraig Flynn and Sean Doherty separately told Ray MacSharry that Martin O'Donooghue wanted to see him. There was mention of big money for him to abandon Haughey. MacSharry didn't like what he heard. He regarded himmself as occupying several delicate posiitions - he was Tanaiste, Minister for Finance and the joint honorary treasuurer of the party - and felt he was very vulnerable to such rumours. He had come a long way under Haughey.
In the mid 1970s, MacSharry was a relatively minor figure in Fianna Fail. When the party was in opposition between 1973 and 1977 he was the front bench spokesman on the Office of Public Works, a portfolio which did not offer many opportunities to develop a high profile either in public or within Fianna Fail. Mac Sharry came to politics through business. He was elected to Sligo corporation in 1967 with the backing of the local Junior Chamber which felt it needed a voice in the local au thority.
MacSharry owned about 75 acres of land, his home and a small haulage business. The haulage business invollved three licenced trucks which contracted to transport goods. The business suffered a blow just before the 1969 general election in which he was elected to the Dail. Two of the trucks, loaded with tomato chip baskets and parked waiting for transsport to Northern Ireland, were set on fire and destroyed by vandals. It was a severe blow to such a small business and the damage was estimated at around £15,000 but MacSharry, connscious of his position as a local poliitician and now a TD, did not want to be seen to make a large malicious damages claim against the local authority.
He sought £2,700 damages and settled for £2,300. He had hoped the balance would be covered by his goods in transit insurance but the policy did not cover trucks that were parked. The effects of the blow to the business were felt for some years and early in 1976, MacSharry negotiated a loan of £5,000 from Merchant Banking Limiited, an off-shoot of the Gallagher property empire with which Haughey had dealings. Haughey also had accounts with the bank.
During this period, George Colley was opposition spokesman on Finance and had also resumed his work as a solicitor. At one stage, Colley was retained to recover £2,500 by a client who maintained MacSharry owed the money. Colley wrote to MacSharry and they met in Leinster House to discuss the matter. MacSharry suggessted payment by post-dated cheques and a satisfactory conclusion was reached. Colley thought no more of the episode.
On the political front, Colley and MacSharry appeared to be quite close. Colley dissuaded him from pursuing his career in the European Parliament because he felt MacSharry was needed in Sligo and was a man of ability who should stay in Ireland. When Fianna Fail was returned to power in 1977, MacSharry approached Colley and asked him to use his influence with Jack Lynch to get him an appointtment. Colley recommended MacSharry and he was made a junior minister in Finance, Colley's department. Colley was the toast of the MacSharry family andwas welcomed at the family celeebrations in Sligo.
Over the following two years, MacSharry worked well and Colley believed he had promise. Then Jack Lynch resigned as Taoiseach. On the day before the crucial meeting of the parliamentary party to elect a new leader, MacSharry came to Colley and told him that Haughey wanted him to propose him. At that time only Padraig Flynn among Haughey's suppporters would publicly declare his allegiance but Haughey wanted a minister to propose him - MacSharry would do. MacSharry appeared to be in a quandary: he repeatedly told Colley that he supported him but he said he would have to propose Haughey.
The impression which Colley gained from this interview was that some years ago Haughey had lent money to MacSharry, that the Haughey camp was now insisting that MacSharry propose or second Haughey, and that he could not refuse because Haughey had helped him when he was in financial difficulties. Colley said that MacSharry had to do what he had to do. But MacSharry indicated that even if he proposed or seconded Haughey, he would not necessarily vote for him.
The following day, MacSharry proposed Haughey for the leadership and subsequently became Agriculture Minister in the new cabinet.
IN THE AUTUMN OF 1982, MACCSharry was extremely sensitive to any suggestion that he was financially compromised. By the time details of O'Donoghue's brief conversation with Reynolds reached MacSharry at Loughnane's funeral, they were emmbellished with specific suggestions, mainly that £100,000 was available. Doherty's earlier conversation with O'Donoghue seemed to fit into a pattern. MacSharry believed that O'Donoghue's persistent attempts to change the Fianna Fail leadership provided enough evidence to have a charge of treason, a capital offence, laid against him. This wasn't a joke: some of Haughey's su pporters really did believe that the dissidents were traitors in the legal sense and should be tried.
In Du blin the day after the funeral, MacSharry met O'Donoghue in a corridor in Leinster House around lunchtime. MacSharry told O'Donoghhue that he heard he wanted to see him. O'Donoghue said he did and asked MacSharry when he thought he would be free. MacSharry said he would be busy for some time in the afternoon because the government's new economic plan, "The Way Forrward ", was being launched in the Burlington Hotel at 3 pm. They agreed to meet around 5.30 pm in MacSharry's office in the Department of Finance, the block adjoining the Taoiseach's offices in Government Buildings.
MacSharry had lunch in the special ministers' dining room in Leinster House. He asked some of his colleaagues if they had a tape recorder he could borrow. After lunch, Doherty telephoned Joe Ainsworth, head of Intelligence and Special Branch, and said he wanted to borrow a tape recorder for MacSharry, describing in detail the type of recorder needed. Ainsworth selected a suitable model and a specially sensitive microphone which was an accessory to the main machine. It was similar to the tiny microphones which are clipped to the clothes of people interviewed on television. He also got some batteries and one of the special cassette tapes used by the recorder.
The tape was capable of recording for two hours, one hour on either side. Doherty told Ainsworth that the equipment was needed before 5.30 pm by MacSharry in his office in the Department of Finance. Ainsworth said he would be passing that way going home and would make the delivery personall y.
Doherty told MacSharry of the arrangement. MacSharry asked why Ainsworth was going to deliver the equipment and Doherty said he was passing MacSharry's office.
MacSharry attended the launching of "The Way Forward" in the Burlington Hotel and thought Haughey handdled the press skillfully. He returned to his office around 5pm to take delivery of the recorder from Ainsworth.
Ainsworth arrived and went to MacSharry's office, gave him the equipment and showed him how to use it. He checked that the batteries were fitted properly and operatting the recorder. He put the cassette inside and plugged in the special microphone. He showed MacSharry how to turn it on and off and then he left. When he had gone,
MacSharry selected a place to put the recorder and microophone so that O'Donoghue would not realise he was being taped. There was a small filing cabinet beside his desk which was slightly lower than the top of the desk. MaccSharry put the recorder into the top drawer of the filing cabinet and left it slightly open so there was just enough space for the wire connecting the recorder to the microophone. There were a couple of telephone directories on top of the cabinet and he hid the microphone by wedging it beeween the directories and the top of his desk. Everything was set.
As the time approached for his appointment with O'Donnoghue, MacSharry received a delegation in his office. Runnning out of time, he hurriedly saw them out again and rushed back to his desk to switch on the tape recorder as his privvate secretary came in by another door to announce the arrrival of Martin O'Donoghue.
"How are you, Martin?" asked MacSharry.
"Well, thanks", said O'Donoghue. "How did it go this afternoon?"
"Not so bad", said MacSharry, adding that he had just received the estimates for 1983 and the figures seemed to be holding.
MACSHARRY THEN ASKED O'DONOGHUE what was on his mind. O'Donoghue said that so long as Haughey remained leader of Fianna Fail, people in the party would be jittery at the prospect of fighting a genneral election. MacSharry said that the 58-22 split in the parliamentary party as a result of the McCreevy motion did not matter. O'Donoghue disagreed. He said the leadership problem remained and most people thought the governnment could not last beyond the summer of 1983 at the outtside. But there was an alternative, said O'Donoghue (change leader.
"Well, you know my view on that", said MacSharry, who went on to deny that he was involved in the moves in 1979 against Lynch. Their conversation was interrupted when MacSharry's phone rang. He answered the call and spoke briefly. When he finished, O'Donoghue returned to the problem of how to remove Haughey and save the governnment.
"Well, let me give you the bones of it quickly. It seems to me that you are limping now and you are depending on Gregory and Blaney and you are always vulnerable", said O'Donoghue. "The other option is the Labour Party and now I know there are about three or four different factions we all know and let's say that I am satisfied from each facttion that they guarantee at least one year, and some of them would be interested in up to four years".
O'Donoghue said that once Haughey was removed, it would be up to the party to choose a successor and he hinted that MacSharry might be the man. He said the way to ditch Haughey was for a number of senior cabinet members to agree that he had to go. Then they would go to Haughey and tell him to resign and choose a new leader from among themselves.
"You would not see that happening", said MacSharry.
"I could not see it happening. In the situation you have George and Dessie, you have Seamus Brennan and yourrself" .
"Seamus Brennan?" interrupted O'Donoghue, "forget it" .
"You are talking of coming out of a room with a Pope". said MacSharry, "He is the Pope in his mind - you see this is the trouble".
"I just want to say quickly if Charlie goes, George goes and I think that is the price of it within the party". said O'Donoghue.
"Sure George won't go", said MacSharry.
They continued to talk about the leadership problem for a few minutes before MacSharry raised the matter of money which Albert Reynolds mentioned to him just before Reynolds had gone to America on official business.
"I really hit the roof when I heard my name mentioned in connection with money".
"I'm supposed to have been bought for £50,000 in February", quipped O'Donoghue.
MacSharry said he had overdrafts of £8,000 and £35,000 and documents to prove it, then returned to what Reynolds had said to him.
"I'm not too concerned but I mean I do not know whether it is true or not, but what he was talking about was arising from a conversation with yourself", said MacSharry.
He had only heard bits and pieces and "£100,000 was being offered".
"I certainly did not say that", said O'Donoghue immeediately.
Said MacSharry: "I do not know where the story came from but that is what he was talking about. I don't give a damn what was happening in Fianna Fail and I could not care less if I was not there tomorrow or whenever the decision was made, but if I was to go round with the arse out of my trousers I would not take a brown penny from anyone".
O'Donoghue said he didn't think anyone implied that there was any substance in such suggestions. He mentioned again how he was alleged to have been paid £50,000 for his conduct during the O'Malley challenge to Haughey but he knew how true that was.
He continued: "What was being said was, if there was any suggestion of somebody being compromised financially, that it would be sorted out. But the money thing that I heard about town was that the Boss was in financial trouble and certainly again, if that was one of the problems, it would be better to organise some way of financing it".
MacSharry said there was no way that Haughey could be in financial trouble. O'Donoghue said there were persistent rumours that Haughey was under pressure to ensure that a highly controversial housing development in North Dublin was granted planning permission because so much money was at stake. It was claimed at the time that Haughey stood to gain if the development went ahead. MacSharry said that all Fianna Fail politicians were accused of this sort of thing - the newspapers loved anything that hit Fianna Fail, he said.
MacSharry again turned to the question of money. He said that all his dealings were above-board and he was concerned if anyone was suggesting, behind his back, that he was financially compromised.
"Yet if there is a compromise situation in relation to C.J. or myself or others, where is that money going to come from, where are we going to get it?" asked MacSharry.
"There is a lot of money around all right but not for C.J., not for him to stay", said O'Donoghue.
"You could never have a situation develop where there would be money around to move a political party in any kind of situation," said MacSharry.
"That is why I am not going after that aspect," said O'Donoghue.
The conversation reverted again to the question of Haughey's leadership and the split in the party. MacSharry said O'Donoghue did not have to resign from the cabinet when he did. O'Donoghue said it was clear that Haughey wanted rid of him. Haughey had spoken to O'Malley and referred to O'Donoghue as "that bastard O'Donoghue" when asking O'Malley not to resign, said O'Donoghue. MacSharry said that opposition to Haughey was wrong.
"If there is a group that will not support the leader, that is not part of Irish politics". he said.
O'DONOGHUE EXPLAINED AGAIN THAT IT would be possible in his opinion to remove Haughey and they returned again to McCreevy's motion and the split.
"One thing that had made Fianna Fail the strength that it has is the protection of its leader", said MacSharry. "You go into any constituency: half the constituency would be for O'Donoghue and the other half would be for Andrews and they would fucking knife each other. Let's face facts, knife each other for and against but that is the way it is".
MacSharry again mentioned the alleged £100,000 for him to change sides. He said he had mentioned it to his wife and she was going to ring O'Donoghue.
"I would not blame her", said O'Donoghue.
MacSharry said he put her off and resolved to speak to O'Donoghue personally. The conversation then drifted once again into the joint problem of Haughey's leadership and the survival of the government. It was clear that both men were set in their convictions and neither was prepared to give way. The conversation ended by 6.30 pm and O'Donoghue left.
SEAN DOHERTY'S BROTHER-IN-LAW, GARDA Tom Nangle, was due to appear in court in Dowra, on the border between County Cavan and County Leitrim on September 27, accused of assaulting a man in a bar in Blacklion, County Cavan, the previous December. Nangle was a young garda and the brother of Doherty's Wife, Maura. At the time of the alleged assault, he had been stationed in Blacklion, one of a strong complement of gardai who manned a checkpoint between Blacklion and its twin village a few yards across the border, Belcoo.
On Thursday, Septem ber 16, Doherty told a female seccretary in his ministerial office to contact Jim Kirby, head of the security section in the Department of Justice. She was to ask Kirby to initiate an enquiry through the gardai with the RUC about James McGovern who lived just across the border from Blacklion in County Fermanagh. She passed on the message to Kirby but he did not act immediately. He waited until the next day when he queried the instruction with Doherty: the Minister confirmed that he was to make the enquiry.
Kirby telephoned Chief Superintendent Tom Kelly, one of the senior officers in the Intelligence and Security Branch of the gardai. He asked Kelly to contact the RUC and enquire about James McGovern. Kelly did so and was told by the RUC that McGovern was "clean". He relayed the information back to Kirby.
Jimmy McGovern was aged 33 and lived with his parents and brothers at the family home in Marlbank, a corner of County Fermanagh in the foothills of the Cuilcagh mounntains. From Marlbank, with its spectacular views northhwards, to Blacklion in County Cavan was a few miles along an unapproved cross-border road: by approved border crossings it was considerably further. On Tuesday, Decemmber 25, 1981, Jimmy McGovern drove down to his local pub, the Bush Bar in Blacklion, where the annual Christmas draw was due to take place. The Bush Bar was owned by another family named McGovern who were not related to the McGoverns in Marlbank.
Jimmy McGovern had left the Bush Bar and crossed Blacklion's only street to a pool hall before closing time. But he returned to the bar around closing time to get change of a £1 note for the pool tables. Garda Tom Nangle, who had also been in the Bush that night, was leaving the building about the same time but stopped off at the bar to get some more drink. He was having an argument with Seamus McGovern, the barman and son of the owner, as Jimmy McGovern came in. Jimmy passed a remark. The next thing he knew he was lying on the ground, dazed. He was taken off to hospital in Enniskillen and treated for a cut to his head. Meanwhile two McGovern's from the Bush brought Nangle up the street to the garda station and
complained to Sergeant Michael Forde that he had assaullted a man in their pub.
The following night Jimmy McGovern made a stateement to the gardai about the incident. About a month later, as the case was still being processed, three men called to Jimmy's home. They were Seamus McGovern, the barman from the Bush Bar, and two brothers, Frankie and Joe Maguire. Frankie Maguire was a cattle dealer for whom Jimmy McGovern's brother, Philip, drove a truck. Joe Maguire ran the Lough MacNean guesthouse across the road from the Blacklion garda station and he was a peace commissioner appointed by a Fine Gael Minister for Justice, Patrick Cooney. His close contact with the gardai as a peace commissioner and as a neighbour made him anxious to settle the argument between Tom Nangle and Jimmy McGovern.
The three men asked Jimmy McGovern if he would be prepared to settle the case privately. There would be less trouble for everyone: Nangle could lose his job in the Garda Siochana if he was convicted, they suggested. Jimmy's family urged him to agree but he still felt sore about the incident. He said he would settle for £2,000, that Nangle's job must be worth that much to him. The others said Nangle would not have that kind of money. They suggested he come to Blacklion and meet Nangle himself.
Jimmy agreed and went to Blacklion with them but Nangle was not free to see them. Joe Maguire, Seamus McGovern and Tom Nangle, in plain clothes, subsequently drove across the border to Jimmy's home. Maguire went into the house and asked Jimmy to come out to the car. He did and they all had a discussion. After some bargaining, a deal was struck. It was agreed that Nangle would pay Jimmy McGovern £400 and Jimmy, in return, was to go to the garda station in Blacklion and withdraw the statement he had made. Joe Maguire and Seamus McGovern witnessed the arrangement.
Jimmy McGovern went to the garda station to withdraw his complaint but he was told that it was out of the hands of the local people at that stage. He told Joe Maguire what had happened. Eventually, however, he signed a statement retracting his complaint and gave it to a garda from Blackklion station. But he never got his £400. He met Tom Nangle on two occasions shortly afterwards and asked for the cash: Nangle said there was no word from Dublin about the case.
SHORTLY AFTER THE INCIDENT, NANGLE WAS transferred from Blacklion to Ballymote in County Sligo and his brother-in-law became Minister for Justice. In mid-july 1982 he and Jimmy McGovern bumped into each other accidentally in a hotel in Bunndoran, County Donegal. Jimmy asked again for his money:
Nangle gave his stock answer that there was still no connfirmation that the case had been dropped.
Some six weeks later, Jimmy McGovern discovered that the case had not been dropped. He was crossing the bridge and the border between Blacklion and Beleoo when a garda handed him a summons to appear in Dowra District Court on September 27.
On Friday, September 24 or Saturday, September 25, the RUC was contacted again by a senior Garda officer @not Chief Superintendent Tom Kelly - about Jimmy McGovern, the Fermanagh man due to give evidence against Garda Tom Nangle in the District Court at Dowra on the following Monday. The RUC headquarters in Belfast ordered that McGovern be taken into custody but a Special Branch officer in the Fermanagh area, Detective Inspector Ian Carter, questioned the order. His views were overruled, however, and the order was confirmed by Assistant Chief Constable Trevor Forbes.
In Blacklion, meanwhile, the impending court case had created enormous interest among the gardai stationed there. Some had gone out of their way to issue summons for minor traffic offences to ensure that they would be able to travel the ten miles to Dowra for the Nangle hearing. Jimmy McGovern, too, had made preparations to take the day off. He was employed at the time with a contractor who was busily laying concrete driveways into farms. The business was booming, thanks to an EEC grant for farmers to have the work done. The grant was about to end and there was pressure on them to complete as many concrete laneways as possible. As he had to take a day off for the court, McGovern decided to make an appointment with a dentist in Enniskillen for 4.30 p.m. He reckoned the court case would be well finished by then.
On Sunday night, September 26, Jimmy McGovern left home to cross the border to Blacklion to meet some friends, They went drinking and later went to a football club dance. Among the people he met was Seamus McGovern, the barman at the Bush bar, and they arranged to drive together to Dowra the next morning. Jimmy McGovern changed his mind about going home: he decided to stay with a cousin, John McNulty, in Belcoo. He arrived at McNulty's house, close to the local RUC station, about 3am and knocked up his cousin.
The RUC arrived at his family home at Marlbank about 6 am. They looked through the house casually and asked who was the normal occupant of the empty bed. The policemen sought instructions by radio when they were told Jimmy wasn't there. Nobody in the home knew where he was. The police took Philip, one of Jimmy's brothers, with them: he was taken to the interrogation centre at Gough barracks in Armagh and questioned before being released that evening. .
Half an hour later the RUC arrived at McNulty's house in Belcoo. They asked McNulty, who was not getting much unbroken sleep that night, if anyone other than his family was staying there. He told them about Jimmy McGovern: they showed no interest in anyone else. Jimmy was woken up by an armed and uniformed constable pulling at the blankets on the bed and telling him that he was under arrest as a suspected terrorist.
Jimmy said he couldn't go with them because he had to be in court in Dowra. The constable said he was going to Armagh. Two other policemen were waiting outside with a Ford Cortina and they drove off with their captive, still protesting about his court appearance in Dowra. They drove into the heavily-fortified police station in Ennisskillen and one of the RUC men went into the building. He emerged within five minutes, and said that he had left a message to be relayed to the gardai about McGovern's detention.
ON THE WAY TO ARMAGH, THE POLICEMEN DID not talk but they and Jimmy McGovern exchanged cigarettes. Shortly after 9am they arrived at Gough barracks. His pockets were emptied, he was examined by a doctor and placed in a cell. Some two hours later, two detectives brought him to an upstairs room where his fingerprints were taken. Jimmy told them about the court case in Dowra and his story about the alleged assault. They joked that he would be a great guy for getting the brotherrin-law of the Justice Minister. One of the detectives said he would notify the gardai and later told Jimmy that he had done so. Then the interrogation began in a low-key fashion.
Unknown to them, a senior officer in the RUC teleephoned a counterpart in Intelligence and Security Branch (It garda headquarters. The special request from the South , which they had spoken of a few days previously, was being looked after he said.
Meanwhile, the detectives asked McGovern if he was a member of the IRA or knew any Provos. He said he was not and did not. They asked him about attending H-Block demonstrations and about the murder of a UDR man in Florencecourt, close to Marlbank, seven years earlier. Jimmy McGovern admitted being at a few H-Block rallies and working at a polling station in Blacklion for Kieran Doherty, the IRA hunger striker in the North who had been elected to the Dail in the June 1981 general election and was one of the ten republicans who died during the prison protest. After three-quarters of an hour, he- was taken back to his cell for lunch.
After 3 pm he was taken to a different interview room where there were two detectives, one of whom he had seen in the morning. They told him they had good news for him: he was not being held any longer. But they could not release him immediately because they did not have a car available to take him home. He told them about his 4.30 appointment with a dentist in Enniskillen: one said he would phone and cancel the appointment for him. After a casual conversation about smuggling in Fermanagh, he was taken back to his cell, given a medical examination and released about 7.30 pm. Three different RUC men drove him home to Marlbank.
THE COURTHOUSE WHICH SHARED A SOLID building with the garda station a Dowra had been packed for the hearing of the Nangle case. Sergeant Michael Forde told how Garda Nangle had been brought into the Blacklion garda station by Seamus McGovern and his father, Vincent McGovern, who accused him of assaulting a man in their pub. When he went down to the Bush bar, the sergeant saw James McGovern being treated by a number of people and he saw a cut on his head.
Garda Tom Nangle was defended by another brotherrin-law, Kevin Doherty, a solicitor and brother of the Minister for Justice. He asked Sergeant Forde in crosssexamination if James McGovern had made a statement the next night and if he had made a further statement on Jannuary 21. The sergeant said that the general gist of what McGovern had said in the second statement was that he did not want to go ahead with the complaint. "He didn't wish to pursue it?" Doherty asked. "He gave reasons for not wanting to pursue it," Sergeant Forde replied.
Vincent McGovern, the owner of the Bush bar, and his son, Seamus, told the court that Nangle had asked for more drink as he was leaving at closing time. They refused to serve him any more drinks. They saw Jimmy McGovern come in and they saw Nangle hit him. Seamus McGovern agreed under cross-examination that it was possible that Jimmy McGovern had tried to strike Nangle and he had not seen it.
Nangle, in evidence, said he had asked the McGoverns for a take-away as he was leaving but was refused. He alleged that James McGovern said to him: "Fuck the guards, they should all be in H-Block". He said he turned around but saw James McGovern raise his left hand and he felt that McGovern was going to strike him. "In selffdefence I put up my hand and it connected with him and he fell down", Nangle said. He said he felt threatened because of his previous dealings with Jimmy McGovern whom, he said, he had interviewed about H-Block activities some six months earlier.
NOBODY MENTIONED IN COURT WHY JIMMY McGovern was not present. The local Garda Superrintendent said afterwards that he had been told by a local member of the force when he arrived at the court that Jimmy Mcflovern would not be attending. He had not been given-any reason, he said.
. District Justice John H. Barry said that cases like this one were always unpleasant and uncomfortable for the courts when gardai were involved. It was extraordinary that every time there was a question of assault connected with guards there was "the questionof so-called patriots". The court must have the best evidence available, he said. "The best evidence is that of James McGovern, but, for what reason I don't know it was not forthcoming". He dissmissed the charge of assault.
When the case was over the prosecution and the defence witnesses drifted out to a local pub, McLoughlin's. Nangle remarked that there he was, having a drink. while poor Jimmy was locked up in Gough. Later in the day, when the court had finished its sitting, there was a farewell party for District Justice Barry in McLoughlin's. He was due to retire several weeks later and September 27 was his last day to sit in the courthouse at Dowra.
Next day, the floodgate burst. Sean Doherty's brotherrin-law had been cleared of assaulting a man who had been unable to give evidence because he had been detained for the day by the RUC. Suspicion was rife, Jimmy McGovern told the Irish Press that his arrest had been a "cover-up" designed to stop him appearing in court. His father mainntained there was something very fishy going on: "It looks like the RUC and the gardai are working hand in hand." Doherty was quoted as saying: "I deny any knowledge of the affair; the whole thing is crazy".
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Eamonn Barnes, began an enquiry into the decision by the district justice to allow the case to go ahead in the absence of the main prosecution witness: He eventually took the issue to the High Court on the grounds that the decision by the district justice to acquit the accused man was not in line with the evidence he had heard. In June 1983, however, the High Court upheld the decision reached by District Justice Barry in the case. There were no grounds for the High Court to interfere in he case, it decided.
Fine Gael's shadow Justice Minister, Jim Mitchell, demanded explanations from the Garda Commissioner and called on the DPP to investigate all the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of the prosecution and to publish his findings. Fine Gael, he added, might demand Doherty's resignation unless the facts of the case were established satisfactorily within a short time. Labour's Justice spokessman, Dick Spring, said there was serious public disquiet about the case and he too called for a full statement from the DPP.
Doherty responded with a formal statement denying that he had any prior knowledge of, or involvement in, the detention of McGovern or any of the circumstances surrrounding that detention. In an interview with RTE, he said he had only been informed a few days earlier that Nangle was appearing in court. He added: "My brother-in-law ðI'm not his keeper. It's as simple as that". Doherty also asked Commissioner McLaughlin to investigate the cirrcumstances in which the case proceeded without a key witness. McLaughlin appointed Chief Superintendent Steven Fanning, the second in command of the Intelligence and Security Branch to Assistant Commissioner Joe Ainssworth to carry out the task.
Meanwhile, in the border town of Blacklion, Jimmy McGovern was receiving more offers of financial induceements to stay away if the case ever came to court again. A Fianna Fail activist from County Sligo approached Joe Maguire, the peace commissioner and guesthouse owner in Blacklion, and said he was a friend of Nangle. Maguire's sister and Nangle's sister, Maura Doherty, had been at school together, he pointed out. He said that he and a friend were prepared to put up some money to have the case settled.
Maguire agreed to ask Jimmy McGovern about the offer but McGovern asked for £25,000 in sterling. The talks fell through. Another tentative offer was made later through Seamus McGovern, the son of the owner and the barman at the Bush bar. If the case went to court again, a sum of £6,000 was to be left at the Bush Bar for Jimmy McGovern. He could collect it the day after the hearing - provided he did not turn up in court to give evidence against Nangle.
A year after the incident in the Bush Bar which started the whole affair, Jimmy McGovern was back in the pub for the 1982 Christmas Draw. This time he did the carrying out - he won the draw and took away a huge seasonal hamper.
The assault charge against Nangle was not tried again because the High Court upheld the original decision of District Justice Barry. The toing and froing around Blackklion eventually quietened down and Jimmy McGovern was left pursuing a complaint against the RUC. •