Easier ways to sack gardaí sought after Disclosures Tribunal findings

In report on Garda Harrison the tribunal said simpler ways needed to dismiss gardaí

Mr Justice Peter Charleton at the Tribunal of Inquiry into protected disclosures made under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and certain other matters. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Mr Justice Peter Charleton at the Tribunal of Inquiry into protected disclosures made under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and certain other matters. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

An Garda Síochána is examining more streamlined ways, that are less open to legal challenge, to dismiss members from the force.

The move comes after Mr Justice Peter Charleton concluded at the Disclosures Tribunal that it must be made easier to “dispense with the services” of Garda members when the need arose.

The Irish Times understands a process is now under way within the Garda, under Assistant Commissioner Barry O’Brien, with a view to addressing those concerns.

Mr Justice Charleton’s comments were made in an interim report published by the tribunal relating to Garda Keith Harrison.

The tribunal chairman said Garda members “accused of ill discipline” should be corrected by senior officers. This should be done without the need to use current “private trial” process akin to procedures in the criminal courts.

The Garda discipline process was “far too easily impeded by court applications” that resulted in “years of delay” once commenced.

The complaints were found to be 'entirely without any validity' and had damaged Garda members and Tusla staff

“A simplified structure is called for,” he concluded. “Private industry uses a system of simply taking a statement of what is wrong, passing it to the employee and considering any response offered.”

Simplification

In reply to queries, Garda Headquarters confirmed an assistant commissioner was reviewing “issues raised” in the “interim report of Justice Charleton”. That examination was “continuing”.

While Garda Headquarters has not commented on the precise nature of the review, informed sources said it was examining the simplification of the Garda discipline and dismissal process.

Mr Justice Charleton described as “astonishing” Garda Harrison’s making complaints about his senior officers when they sought to discipline him or to raise with him the shortcomings in his work.

He outlined eight such examples, which included Garda Harrison not following orders, driving a car with fake insurance documents and also using the Garda’s Pulse database to run checks on his partner’s movements.

Garda Harrison claimed he was a whistleblower and lodged a raft of serious allegations against members of the Garda and the child and family agency Tusla.

However, the complaints were found to be “entirely without any validity” and had damaged Garda members and Tusla staff.

Drink-driving

His case was taken up by a number of politicians, some of whom met him in the Dáil.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty TD told the Dáil that Garda Harrison had been victimised for arresting another garda for drink-driving.

Labour TD Alan Kelly pressed for his case to be included in the Charleton tribunal so as the State would inquire into the “disgraceful way an agenda was pursued to discredit and damage”.

Garda Harrison later thanked Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and Independents4Change TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace for their assistance.

Following the tribunal report, Garda Harrison had begun a High Court action against the State over what he says was an campaign against him because he once arrested a colleague for drink-driving.

Efforts to contact Garda Harrison were not successful. Queries and a request for comment lodged with his lawyer Trevor Collins went unanswered.