Gerard Cunningham is the author of two books, ‘Chaos & Conspiracy’, published in April 2009, and ‘Breaking the Silence’ (co-authored with Martin Ridge). He also worked as consultant editor on ‘Charades’, by Karen McGlinchey.
In 2020 he published Dead Tree Journals, a Kindle e-book containing a series of articles and essays primarily covering media developments in Ireland but also covering related topics. First published in Village magazine between 2013-18, during a decade of immense change in the news landscape both in Ireland and internationally.
Chaos and Conspiracy
[The scandal is] the country’s Guantanamo Bay — a pockmark on the state’s policing practice. Dozens of gardaí were criticised in the tribunal’s reports, most of who retired in shame.
The human cost is more difficult to assess. Twelve innocent people were hauled into custody and questioned barbarically six weeks after Barron’s death, suspected of colluding in his murder.
What is infuriating about the whole episode, which trumbled on for 12 years, is that most of the mistakes were made in the first week, as Gerard Cunningham outlines in his riveting new book, Chaos and Conspiracy.
Richard Fitzpatrick, Irish Examiner
This is a brilliant piece of reporting. Readers will already know the bones of this case through newspaper, TV and radio reports. The book to hand, taken in two or three sittings, makes for a more dramatic read than the daily drip-feed of national newspapers.
The question that this reader arrived at was how the gardaí hoped to get away with this behaviour. Did they see themselves as so unconnected with Garda HQ in Dublin that they believed they could act in such an unrestrained way?
Tom Widger, Sunday Tribune
This story has almost been lost because it became the subject of the Morris Tribunal, which ran for six years. But Gerard Cunningham, who covered every day of evidence at the tribunal, has written a devastating new book which redresses the balance. And Chaos and Conspiracy is at its most powerful when it details the awful consequences of the wrongful arrests.
These were ordinary people who had never seen the inside of a garda station and were suddenly being shouted at, abused and told they were involved in a murder which they knew nothing about. And Gerard Cunningham carefully catalogues their stories, which had previously been lost amidst tens of thousands of pages.
Chaos and Conspiracy is a gripping account which will be read most avidly in Raphoe. But it should also be obligatory reading for the 14,000 members of the gardai and for those of us tempted to argue that the end justifies the means when it comes to combating crime.
Michael Brennan, Irish Independent
Breaking the Silence
What emerges very strongly from the narrative is the wall of silence, of shame, of guilt and of fear that had prevented significant numbers of victims from speaking out about their experiences … The authors have skilfully portrayed this gradual opening up … What must occur to anyone reading this account of the rape and sexual abuse of so many young people in one parish in Donegal, is that it is unlikely to be an isolated case; perhaps victims in many other areas of the country are awaiting their opportunity to talk about their pain and despair. It is certainly a book that will leave a sense of betrayal, while at the same time eliciting an enormous sympathy for all those whose innocence was taken from the by men whom they should have been able to trust implicitly. – Irish Emigrant
Click here to buy [Breaking the Silence].