Garda whistleblower Harrison welcomes inclusion in inquiry

Tribunal to investigate allegation of inappropriate contacts between Tusla and gardaí

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison relaxing in a Dublin hotel on Wednesday while the Dáil debate on the motion of no confidence in the Government was taking place. Photograph: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison relaxing in a Dublin hotel on Wednesday while the Dáil debate on the motion of no confidence in the Government was taking place. Photograph: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

 

Donegal-based Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison has welcomed the terms of reference for the Charleton tribunal which is now going to investigate allegations he made as well as the alleged smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe.

The tribunal is to investigate Mr Harrison’s allegation that there were inappropriate contacts between the child protection service Tusla and gardai, as has also been alleged in relation to Sgt McCabe.

It is also to investigate concerns that such contacts may have taken place in relation to other members of the force who had made whistleblower allegations.

The Donegal-based garda, who is on sick leave since 2014, said he has been subjected to harassment since he arrested a drugs detective for alleged drink-driving, when stationed in Athlone.

Following his transfer to Co Donegal, he got into further difficulties because of what he said was unhappiness that he was in a relationship with a woman Marisa Simms, whose brother had been in a traffic incident that had led to the death of a garda. He said he was ordered to apologise to Buncrana colleagues for being in the relationship.

Third party

Mr Harrison told The Irish Times that after a third party informed a garda of a row he had had with Ms Simms in 2013, she was asked to come into the station to discuss the matter, and that when she did so she was questioned for a long period.

He said Ms Simms eventually signed a 38-page statement that dealt with the history of her relationship with Mr Harrison, and which included an allegation that she had been assaulted by Mr Harrison during the row a few days earlier.

He said his partner signed the statement without reading it and after being put under pressure to do so. She was told that if she did not sign there might be “consequences” for her two children. He said Ms Simms was not given a copy of the statement.

Mr Harrison insists there had been no assault, and it had not been alleged at any stage by his partner that there had been.

Retract her statement

He said Ms Simms was subsequently contacted by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, but she told it she did not want to make any complaint.

Mr Harrison claims it took a number of months before Ms Simms was able to retract her statement, and when she did so she was further warned that her actions might have “consequences” for her family.

After withdrawing her statement, Ms Simms said she was contacted by a Tusla worker who was investigating the allegation.

He said that when the worker came to their home to talk to them and see their children, they apologised for having to do so, and subsequently reported that the children had no recollection of the alleged assault, and that to further query them on the matter would not be in the children’s interest.