Charleton tribunal may recall gardaí and HSE over new documents
Inquiry had been scheduled to hear closing submissions from legal teams
Garda Keith Harrison and his partner, Marisa Simms, at the disclosures tribunal, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
Several senior gardaí and a senior HSE official may be recalled to give evidence to the Charleton tribunal following the discovery of two new documents relating to whistleblower Garda Keith Harrison and contacts between the Garda and the HSE/Tusla.
In the current module, the tribunal is looking at contacts between gardaí and the HSE/Tusla relating to Garda Harrison.
The tribunal had been scheduled to hear closing submissions from legal teams until tribunal barrister Diarmaid McDermott told the inquiry about the new documents.
The first document which mentions Garda Harrison, is the record of a meeting on November 29th, 2013, of senior gardaí in the Donegal division, which was attended by senior HSE (now Tusla) official Gerry Hone. The meeting discussed the management of referrals between the two agencies.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, became an independent body partly comprising the HSE’s children and family services in 2014.
The second document, a minute of a monthly Garda regional management meeting on November 5th 2013, includes a single line that Donegal Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn “updated the meeting on the investigation into Garda Harrison”.
In October 2013, a Garda statement by Garda Harrison’s partner, Marisa Simms, led to a Garda referral to the HSE over child welfare issues. The HSE closed the case in March 2014, having found there were no issues of concern.
Both of the new documents referred to meetings held during this period. Ms Simms withdrew her statement to the Garda Síochána in January 2014.
Paul Anthony McDermott SC, representing Tusla, said the meeting Mr Hone attended did not seem to have any relevance to the tribunal’s terms of reference, but Mr Hone was happy to return and give further evidence if needed by the tribunal.
The barrister said there were meetings all the time about all kinds of issues, and this meeting did not seem to mention Garda Harrison.
Mark Harty SC, for Garda Harrison, said that further searches should be carried out of all records during the six-month period from October 2103 and March 2014 to see if other documents were uncovered by Tusla or gardaí.
Conor Dignam SC, for the Garda commissioner, said that he could provide an affidavit setting out new searches.
Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton said that once the methodology of the searches were set out, they could see which witnesses had to be recalled.
Possible witnesses who might be recalled about the meetings included Chief Supts Terry McGinn and Jim Sheridan, Supt Eugene McGovern, and Gerry Hone. Retired assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny, who was out of the country on an extended vacation, may also have to be called as a witness.
The tribunal has adjourned, and will resume on Tuesday, October 24th. A single remaining witness relating to a previous module involving Sgt Maurice McCabe will also be called the same week.
The tribunal is looking into whether Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe was the target of a smear campaign on the direction of senior Garda management. The Garda Harrison allegation is that there were inappropriate contacts between Tusla and the Garda in relation to matters to do with Garda Harrison and his partner, Ms Simms. He has said these mirrored in some regards what allegedly happened with Sgt McCabe.