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Martin Conmey

Garda Commissioner issues written apology to man wrongly convicted of 1971 killing of Una Lynskey

19-year-old Una Lynskey was killed near her home in Co Meath in 1971.

LAST UPDATE | 10 Jan 2022


GARDA COMMISSIONER DREW Harris has issued a formal apology to a man who was wrongly accused of killing a 19-year-old woman in Co Meath in 1971.

Gardaí said that the Garda Commissioner has written to apologise to Martin Conmey for his wrongful conviction of the killing of civil servant Una Lynskey. 

It comes ahead of an RTÉ documentary to be broadcast tonight on the wrongful convictions and Garda investigation into her death.

Conmey served a three-year sentence for the manslaughter, but his conviction was quashed in 2010 after newly discovered facts came to light that the Court of Appeal ruled in 2014 showed there had been “a miscarriage of justice”.

Justice Adrian Hardiman found that Martin Conmey could only have been convicted of the offence on the basis of a finding that he was “part of a joint enterprise” with others. But he said there was no evidence to support that case.

This evening’s documentary, Crimes and Confessions, looks at the wrongful convictions around Una Lynskey’s disappearance from near her home at Porterstown Lane in Ratoath. Her body was discovered two months later in the Dublin Mountains.

Gardaí suspected three local men of her disappearance, including Conmey.

All three men claimed that they were subjected to brutal interrogation by some members of An Garda Síochána – a claim that has been denied by Gardaí.

One of the three men, Martin Kerrigan, signed a statement confessing to the crime, but never stood trial after he was abducted and killed by Una Lynskey’s two brothers and cousin. They were later found guilty of his manslaughter.

The third man Dick Donnelly had his manslaughter conviction overturned on appeal in 1973.

The families of Dick Donnelly and Martin Kerrigan have not received a State or Garda apology, and are to call for a State inquiry into the Garda investigation.

Ann Donnelly, the widow of Dick Donnelly and the sister of Martin Kerrigan, will tell the programme tonight: “They didn’t look for the right person, the people that did it… So Una didn’t get justice. Her killer is at large.”    

In a statement to The Journal, An Garda Síochána said that its Garda Serious Crime Review team is to re-examine the investigation into the Una Lynskey case.

“Commissioner Harris has requested that the Serious Crime Review Team as part of its work schedule conduct a review of the relevant investigation regarding the suspected murder of Úna Lynskey, in October 1971.

The outcome of the review will determine whether further action is required from An Garda Síochána. In general, in circumstances where a review of an investigation has taken place and this reveals it is appropriate, then an apology to an individual or individuals will be made.

“In relation to Mr Conmey; at the recommendation of the Commissioner of the time and with the agreement of the Minister for Justice of the time, Mr Conmey received a State apology in 2016.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Commissioner Harris has provided Mr Conmey with a written apology from An Garda Síochána in relation to the miscarriage of justice that Mr Conmey suffered,” it said.

Speaking on RTE radio Conmey said that he was happy to receive the garda apology but called for a public enquiry into the miscarriage of justice. 

“The whole thing will never rest with us until there is a guaranteed public inquiry into what has happened and why and how people made statements something that never happened and what led up to that. That is the part that is not answered out there,” he said. 

Conmey spoke of the impact the case has had on him and how it affected his life. 

“I kind of blamed myself for making statements about something that didn’t happen and I kept knocking myself.

“It made me feel that I was inadequate and a weak person. It was embarrassing. I couldn’t even give my name for a job because (they would say) that’s that fella Conmey again and it does knock you back in it. 


“It never, never, never leaves me – every morning I get up and every night I go to bed it is the same thing.

“And the thing is, unfortunately, if I was to get a few drinks, I tend to get kind of be paranoid and if someone says something out of the ordinary, I’m kind of analysing that and reading into it, it is still there and will be until I die,” he added. 

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