Disclosures tribunal rejects up to eight complaints from gardaí

Tribunal still considering further four complaints in private

The tribunal sittings under term of reference P are being chaired by Mr Justice Seán Ryan. Photograph: Collins Courts

The tribunal sittings under term of reference P are being chaired by Mr Justice Seán Ryan. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

The Disclosures tribunal has rejected up to eight complaints it received from gardaí who felt they were targeted by senior officers after making a whistleblower disclosure, it has emerged.

It is still considering a further four complaints in private, a source has told The Irish Times. The tribunal has yet to decide if these fall within its terms of reference and should proceed to full public hearings.

The tribunal began hearing evidence on October 14th last about a complaint from Garda Nicky Keogh that he was targeted and discredited after he made a protected disclosure in May 2014.

On the first week of the sittings, two of the most serious complaints he made were withdrawn. These included a claim that in 2015 the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan phoned Garda Keogh’s superintendent and that afterwards the word went out in the Athlone station that members should “step back and alienate” the garda.

The remaining 20 of his complaints deal with a range of matters including internal inquiries, alleged unfair treatment over expenses and sick leave, and other matters.

Sick leave

Garda Keogh, who had a drink problem and suffered from stress, has been on sick leave since December 2015.

The public inquiry into his complaints comes under term of reference P, which instructs the tribunal to consider complaints from members of the force who made protected disclosures prior to February 16th, 2017, the day the Oireachtas established the tribunal. It is the tribunal’s sole remaining term of reference.

The tribunal has sat in public for 29 days hearing evidence about Garda Keogh’s complaints, with up to 20 barristers and solicitors being present at most sittings.

It will sit again during the second and third weeks of February and the plan is that the hearing of evidence will end by early March.

According to one source, even if one or two more complaints from other whistleblowers proceed to public sittings, they will be shorter in duration than was the inquiry into Garda Keogh’s complaint. However, no decision has as yet been made about the remaining complaints under review.

The sittings under term of reference P are being chaired by Mr Justice Seán Ryan. Earlier sittings that heard evidence in relation to Sgt Maurice McCabe, Garda Keith Harrison and matters to do with the child and family agency, Tusla, were chaired by Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

Mr Justice Charleton dismissed as false and completely without foundation complaints Garda Harrison made about Tusla and the gardaí treating him unfairly. The judge subsequently decided that Garda Harrison was not entitled to most of his legal costs.

Other complaints from Garda Harrison were at one stage also expected to feature under term of reference P, but it is understood this inquiry will not now be taking place and that Garda Harrison has said he has no wish to participate in any tribunal inquiry.

The tribunal is next scheduled to sit on Monday, February 10th.