Files on MacArthur kept secret

No files in relation to the arrest and conviction of double killer Malcolm MacArthur have been cleared for release in the tranche of 30-year-old documents.

Despite the “Gubu” events of 1982, as Charles Haughey then called it, any papers concerning his sensational arrest at a home owned by the then attorney general are still considered live.

MacArthur, 67, is a lifer and will be until his death, living out his days on licence and under the close supervision of the authorities.

The Taoiseach’s office revealed that it does not have any files in relation to Bridie Gargan, the nurse killed by MacArthur as she sunbathed in Phoenix Park; or Donal Dunne, a farmer from Edenderry, Co Offaly, who was selling a shotgun which days later Macarthur used to kill him.

Nor have any files been handed to the department on the whole Gubu affair, an acronym based on Haughey’s famous description of Macarthur’s arrest: “A bizarre happening, an unprecedented situation, a grotesque situation, an almost unbelievable mischance.”

The socialite was staying at an apartment in Pilot View, Dalkey owned by his friend, the then attorney general Patrick Connolly when detained by gardaí for the two murders.

The attorney general thought little of it and left for a holiday in the US, only to be ordered back to Dublin by Haughey to tender his resignation.

The scandal and the frenzy over the killings and MacArthur's arrest prompted Haughey’s observation.

He confessed to killing Bridie Gargan while trying to rob her car. He was mentally unwell and wanted a vehicle to carry out a bank robbery after splashing a £70,000 inheritance in a six week splurge in the Canaries, with partner Brenda Little, and son Colm Malcolm.

MacArthur was jailed for life in January 1983 for murdering Bridie Gargan but a prosecution for Donal Dunne’s murder was not pursued.

In a statement the Department of Justice confirmed that files in relation to the MacArthur case are under its control.

“Under the National Archives Act, Regulations, 1988, the age of a record for the purpose of considering release under the 30-year limit is determined by the latest substantive entry on it,” the department said.

“Accordingly, in the case of many files created in 1982, the 30-year limit will not commence until some time later.”

The department also pointed to other reasons the MacArthur files may not be due for release, such as that they are in regular use; required for the administration in the department; that publication is contrary to public interest; it would breach statutory duty, or good faith.

Other reasons were that information was supplied in confidence; that publication could cause distress or danger to living persons because of the information on certain individuals; or it could lead to an action for damages for defamation.

“The 30-year rule applies in relation to files held by the Department in this particular case,” the department said.

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