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31 Mar,1976  

Osgur arrested. Released 48 hrs later.

5 Apr,1976        

40 people arrested. 11 prisoners tortured. Osgur kidnapped and tortured in underground tunnel and police locker room.

7 Apr,1976       

Incriminating statement written by Gardai signed by Osgur. Kelly, McNally & Fitzpatrick sign false incriminating statements written/dictated by Gardai. Osgur considers suicide in his cell. Osgur released but immediately re-arrested.    Habeas Corpus application to High Court results in hospitalisation. Aidan Browne B.L. represents the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and later gives evidence that the High Court           appearance of Breatnach was like those of tortured Hooded Men whose case the Irish Government had taken against Britain in the European Court! Returning to High Court he is illegally arrested. High Court releases Osgur. He is immediately arrested and charged with robbery and sent to Mountjoy Prison. McNally, Kelly, Fitzpatrick and Plunkett are brought to Bridewell’s District Court to be tried by jury and formally charged.

8 Apr,1976      

All five accused are transferred to Portlaoise prison and medically examined again.

9 Apr,1976      

Michael Barrett arrested (he was named in Fitzpatrick’s statement but both he and Fitzpatrick had the solid alibi of being with other witnesses). The foundation of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties by, amongst others, Law lecturers Kadar Asmal and future Irish President Mary Robinson, is driven by the Sallins Case.


On obtaining a reduced bail, from tens of thousands to one thousand, some weeks later, (now that the bruises had disappeared), a large number of Civil Cases to be heard by jury for assault and battery etc were announced by those tortured. 


 The Court of Criminal Appeal in the “Madden” Case directs that Appeal Courts should usually accept as a finding of fact anything decided by the Special Criminal Court (SCC) to be a fact.

8 Dec,1976     

 O’hUadhaigh J., in the District Court throws out DPP Case against Breatnach and all the others on the grounds of failure to present any evidence.

17 Dec,1976    

Breatnach, NcNally, Plunkett, and Kelly re-arrested: Barrett not re-arrested. Fitzpatrick declared “missing”. All Four accused brought before the juryless Special Criminal Court and charged.


Front page Irish Times exposé reveals existence of “Garda Heavy Gang” and extensive ill-treatment of prisoners.


Amnesty International sends observers to Ireland and issues report expressing great concern and mentions the matter of garda torture and malpractice in the Special Criminal Court in its 1977 World Report seeking an impartial Inquiry. Fianna Fáil (FF) win landslide general election victory committing to inquiry. In government, an impartial Inquiry is rejected by FF. A three-man committee, chaired by Barra O’Briain J., is established to recommend future safeguards. .All its recommendations are subsequently rejected by  Government.


19 Jan,1978    

Juryless trial commences.

3 Feb,1978       

Hibernia journalist Niall Kiely reports ‘judge O’Connor J., nodding off’ on 10th., day of – nothing happens.

6 Feb, 1978     

Dublin architect and Fine Gael member, Martin Reynolds, observes the same.

15 Apr,1978     

Sunday Independent reports a Belgian lawyer has the names of most of the Heavy Gang members ‘…we get special pay..unless we are ordered to stop .. we will continue…’

26 Apr,1978      

On the 50th., day of the Trial, Defence SCs Sorohan and McEntee asks the Court to discharge itself on the sleeping judge issue. Court adjourns to back room, returns and refuses application stating the court is fit to continue. It  ignores the sleeping judge issue. Art 40 Irish Constitution ‘All citizens shall as human persons be held equal before the law’ goes out the window.

28 Apr,1978    

Affidavits to the High Court of the 4 accused, architect Reynolds, Journalist Kiely, and defence solicitors (McCartan and White) swear observing ‘sleeping judge.’ High Court President, Finlay J., refuses Application. Court bound by the finding of fact’ that the SCC court ruled that there was no sleeping judge.

4 May,1978      

On Appeal, the Supreme Court demands the Affidavits of the solicitors be withdrawn “immediately” and denounce Reynold’s Affidavit.Their Judgment finds ‘the length of delay in making the application is reason enough to deny the appeal… Court feels bound by the “finding of fact”.

Nine judges have now ruled that sleeping Judge O’Connor J., is following all the evidence in due discharge of his duties.

5 May,1978     

Plunkett shouts in court that O’Connor J., is asleep. Nothing happens.

6 May,1978     

Hibernia reporter Kiely reports that O’Connor is asleep again. Nothing happens.


Garda Review editorial (published by the Garda Representative Association) alleges Garda Commissioner misleading public. Commissioner moves to indict the entire editorial board. Concerned Gardai send a delegation to Government Minister Garret Fitzgerald who goes to the Taoiseach/ Prime Minister. Complaints about the Heavy Gang are brushed aside.

June, 1978      

Trial now the longest in Irish criminal history.

6 June 1978    

Judge O’Connor J., dies while preparing to go to Court.                          


10 Oct, 1978    

Three accused (Breatnach, McNally, Plunkett) plead a State conspiracy: Evidence is given by 50 plus gardai, who heard nothing or saw nothing unusual. Doctors give evidence of injuries to accused, consistent with being assaulted. Garda Commissioner Ned Garvey is sacked amid controversy he was an agent of British Intelligence.

11 Oct, 1978     

State witness claims Detective wrote statement in her name ‘identifying’ Plunkett. She denies identifying Plunkett. The court acquits Plunkett.

FORTH TRIAL- trial within a trial

As the case against McNally commences it digresses to a ‘trial within a trial’to determine if the statements signed by the three accused should be admitted in evidence. All accused give evidence of being refused solicitors, of being oppressed and tortured and supply medical evidence to the fact.

26 Oct, 1978:    

Breatnach gives evidence of torture and that he contemplated hanging himself to escape his torturers who wanted him to implicate innocent people. Aidan Browne, barrister for the Director of Public Prosecutions gives evidence in support of Osgur, as do doctors.

10 Nov,1978:    

Kelly gives evidence of torture, supported by medical evidence.

27 Nov,1978     

Submissions conclude on 33rd., day of ‘Trial within a Trial.’                      

1 Dec, 1978       

Court rules that

All the statements made by accused were made voluntarily

No torture took place by the police

All injuries were self- inflicted or inflicted with the assistance of other co-accused.

Defence Counsel admonished in Court for expressing surprise at the court’s “reasoning”!

4 Dec, 1978      

Trial “proper” commences with opportunity to cross- examine witnesses again: McNally & Kelly give evidence. Breatnach believes, as always, that they will be convicted and refuses to take the stand to repeat his evidence.

9 Dec,1978      

Kelly does not appear in court. His whereabouts are unknown. Court decides to, uniquely, try him in abstentia.


Process of Appeals commence. 17-month delay in preparing trial- transcripts as ‘photocopying machine broken.’ Caoilte (brother to Osgur ) escalates international campaign to release men and clear their names. Worldwide human rights groups (eg Amnesty International, International, Commision of Jurists etc) contacted.

27 April 1980 

I.R.A. publicly admit responsibility for the robbery declaring all convicted innocent.

12 May, 1980  

McNally’s and Breatnach’s Appeals take place before the Court of Criminal Appeal with international observers present. After six day hearing, judgment reserved.

22 May, 1980  

Court quashes McNally and Breatnach sentences and convictions declaring statements made by them “not legally admissible” but fails to give its reasons.


4 June, 1980    

Kelly returns from the U.S. He seeks “extension of time” to lodge an Appeal.                    

18 Dec,1980    

Court of Criminal Appeal refuse extension of time. Refusal appealed to Supreme Court.

16 Feb,1981    

Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) delivers McNally & Breatnach  judgment: Gardaí’s accused of oppression and the SCC rebuked. However, no explanation is given as to how the men achieved their injuries in police custody. The CCA refused to interfere with the Court of Trial’s finding that there was no assault by any member of the police- the police are again let off the hook.

29 July,1981   

Supreme Court overturns the refusal to Kelly and allows ‘full’ Appeal hearing. Findings reserved.

11 Jan,1982     

Supreme Court explains grounds for allowing Kelly Appeal to be heard.

2 April,1982    

Supreme Court reject Kelly’s Appeal. 

Release Nicky Kelly Campaign launches international campaign. Osgur processes civil actions for Damages for Kelly and others for assault etc.

13 July,1982     

Supreme Court asked to overturn CCA’s refusal of Kelly’s appeal against his conviction. Court reserves its judgement.

29 Oct,1982      

Supreme Court refuses Kelly appeal. All Kelly’s legal challenge finished. Breatnach treated for nervous breakdown.

1 May,1983    

Kelly begins a hunger strike

25 May,1983   

Justice Minister Michael Noonan (FG) says Kelly can’t be released without “new evidence”.

27 May,1983   

Kelly moved to Curragh Military Hospital.

1 Jun,1983      

Irish Commission for Justice & Peace urges Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights

3 Jun,1983      

Amnesty International expresses concern to Minister Noonan. Chanel Four TV makes documentary on trad-rock band “Moving Hearts” and Kelly Case.

6 June,1983    

Kelly’s lawyers initiate appeal to European Commission

7 Jun,1983    

 Kelly comes off hunger strike after 38 days to allow European appeal to proceed. Government issues statement inviting Kelly to pursue his legal action (thinking it time- blocked.) Local Government Authorities, trade unions and high- profile personalities call for Kelly’s release.

31 Oct,1983    

Fitzpatrick comes out of “hiding” and gives press conference. Why was he not re-arrested with the others having signed a statement of involvement? He says he was tortured and forced to incriminate himself and that Gardai always knew where he was. Was it because he had a firm independent alibi (with Barrett)?

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) reviews the entire Sallins Case and rescinds the order to arrest Fitzpatrick, believing he was not involved in the robbery.


Consequently, Kelly’s false statement stating Fitzpatrick was at the robbery was obviously false. As was Fitzpatrick’s statement stating that Kelly was there.

1 Nov,1983      

Kelly’s lawyers initiate release Petition to Minister Noonan on “medical grounds”

May, 1984       

State argue Kelly shouldn’t be allowed to sue as the issues involved have already been “decided” by the SCC 6 years previously.

17 May,1984  

European Court rejects Kelly’s Appeal as it was lodged more “than 6 months after final Supreme Court” Rejection (on 29/10/2982)

17 July,1984   

Minister Noonan tells divided Cabinet he is going to release Kelly on “humanitarian grounds”.

1990, 1991 & 1992   

Case raised by Amnesty in Worldwide Reports with concerns about the continued existence of the Special Criminal Court and calling for an Inquiry to be established.

Jul, 1991         

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) make a submission to the Government for an independent Inquiry. Fitzpatrick takes Civil Action before Judge & Jury. DPP’s Review that finds Fitzpatrick was not involved in robbery, is withheld from court. Judge invites jury to consider if Fitzpatrick robbed train. Fitzpatrick case fails and he appeals to Supreme Court.


Government ask Irish President to ‘Pardon’ Kelly and confirms “exoneration” of McNally & Breatnach


Committee formed to press for an Inquiry. Paper published and launched on RTE News.


Osgur appears on Nighthawks RTE TV 

31 May, 1993 

Osgur interviewed on The Gay Byrne Hour. “Heavy Gang” members issue High Court Contempt of Court Application to jail Gay Byrne. After a number of days, the case is dismissed.

July, 1993      

Compensation agreed. Subsequent information exposes fraudulent negotiations. DPP’s Oct 1983 Review secreted from Breatnach, Kelly and McNally.

1993- 2019      

Breatnach, Kelly and McNally, their families. Amnesty & ICCL continue to call for inquiry.


Osgur discovers evidence of State fraud in compensation settlement (1993) and Fitzpatrick civil case (1991). Campaign for inquiry relaunched.

6 July, 2019       

RTE Doc on One broadcast The Whistleblower . 2 Million views. Winner New York International Radio Award 2020. Winner IMRO 2020 award. Winner Law Society Justice Award. Varied media pre and post programmes interviews and retweets. Prominent patrons secured for the campaign. Renewed inquiry calls secured from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Amnesty International Ire.

July, 2019          

TG4 broadcast of Fínné/ Witness documentary on case. Over 500,00 views. Varied media pre and post programme interviews

Sept, 2019          

Web page  launched.Sourcing of Campaign funds initiated. An independent media data base constructed.

Oct, 2019           

Legal representation sourced from international firm KRW-LAW. Endorsement from the Hooded Men (who are being supported by the Irish Government in their search for justice- while obstructing Sallins Men.)

Oct 2020             

Two Podcasts Being Policed broadcasted. 10,000 views to date. Varied media pre and post programmes interviews and retweets. An extensive and detailed legal petition/s to the Minister for Justice seeking an inquiry being finalised. A political initiative is being organised to surround the eventual presentation of the Petition/s to the Minister. A new book on the inside story of the Sallins Case Out of the Tunnel is being completed by Osgur Breatnach.

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