Force determining whether to open criminal investigation, says Murphy

Sat, Feb 20, 2010, 00:00

GARDA RESPONSE:GARDA COMMISSIONER Fachtna Murphy has said his officers are examining the facts around the resignation from Cabinet of Willie O’Dea to determine if any criminal investigations should be opened.

The examination relates to an allegation of perjury on the part of Mr O’Dea and the suggestion that a garda leaked him confidential information about a criminal investigation. Mr Murphy said the debate of the past week had been “considerably heated” and that the full facts needed to be looked at “in the cold light of day”.

He was aware Green Party activist Gary Fitzgerald had made a complaint to gardaí suggesting possible perjury on the part of Willie O’Dea, who swore a version of a conversation in an affidavit that later proved to be wrong.

“This is one for cool consideration of the facts, to see if there is prima facie evidence of criminality,” Mr Murphy said of Mr Fitzgerald’s complaint. “An Garda Síochána . . . deals in facts. It’s normal practice to see, when a complaint is made, if there are grounds for an investigation.”

Mr Murphy was also aware of suggestions by Mr O’Dea that it was a garda who had incorrectly told him Cllr Maurice Quinlivan was linked to a brothel in a Limerick apartment. However, Mr Murphy said he did not want to be drawn into answering questions relating to “garda gossip”.

Mr Murphy was speaking to the media at a graduation ceremony for members of the Garda Reserve at the Garda Training College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.

Speaking at the same event, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said it was not his role to direct the Garda on the controversy surrounding Mr O’Dea.

He believed Mr O’Dea had made an “incorrect affidavit” rather than a “false” one.

When asked if he was concerned that a garda had apparently passed on confidential information, albeit incorrect, about a criminal investigation to Mr O’Dea, Mr Ahern said: “We’re all politicians who work on the ground. We hear gossip . . . it’s a matter for each individual as to what they do with that gossip.”