Garda malpractice review criticised by victims’ group

Justice4All claims 90% of complainants were told no further action would be taken

Independent TD Clare Daly. Photograph: Fergal Phillips

Independent TD Clare Daly. Photograph: Fergal Phillips

 

An independent review of hundreds of cases involving allegations of Garda malpractice and corruption has ended “disgracefully” with at least 90 per cent of complainants informed no further action would be taken, according to advocacy group Justice4All.

It said the review mechanism, established by the Department of Justice and conducted by lawyers assigned to the cases, had filled families with hope only to leave them with “heartbreak”.

However, secretary of Justice4All Imelda Davis said the group was in dialogue with Prof Nigel Rodley, chair of the UN Human Rights Committee.

It had sent papers about a number of cases and was hopeful the next minister for justice would be called before the UN committee to face questioning about the review process.

Independent deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, said that, on the basis of information obtained from Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, some 307 of 320 complainants had now been contacted and informed the reviews of their cases had been concluded.

“At least 90 per cent of those responses have been that no further action should take place,” said Ms Daly.

‘Utterly meaningless’

“[Options] like a non-statutory inquiry by ‘a person’, which is utterly meaningless,” she said.

Ms Daly was speaking at a meeting in Dublin attended by members of the Justice4All group.

Mr Wallace said the meeting had been called to highlight the fact the independent review mechanism had “come to nothing”.

Ms Davis said cases submitted for review related to serious offences and alleged Garda corruption up to and including “murders not investigated”.

They also related to assaults by gardaí and members of the force protecting criminals from the rigours of the justice system while pursuing malicious prosecutions against other people.

Some complainants alleged Garda members were entering “untrue facts” about people on the force’s Pulse database or using unconstitutional warrants to carry out searches.

In many cases, the review process declined to recommend further action in cases where civil proceedings had begun.

In other cases, the complainants had already been informed by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission that their cases could not be investigated because too much time had passed, among other reasons.

Review mechanism

The allegations emerged in the wake of revelations that some Garda members had been cancelling penalty points for motorists without reason.

The establishment of the review was suggested in the Guerin report.

That study examined how the Department of Justice and other stakeholders had responded to a series of allegations of Garda corruption, cover-up and inaction made by whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

ALLEGED MISTREATMENT AND ABUSE

Two cases considered by review process

DR RICHARD O’FLAHERTY

A GP in Limerick city for more than 40 years, Dr O’Flaherty claimed that when a number of young men from deprived parts of Limerick were arrested and held in Garda stations they were mistreated by members of the force up to, and including, being beaten.

However, he believed his complaints were not taken seriously, adding those carrying out the review did not contact him for interview.

“Quite honestly, we were getting somewhere with Shatter,” he said of the former minister for justice’s insistence that audio and video recording systems be installed in all Garda stations.

“But with the new Minister [for Justice], we’re nowhere . . . The election won’t come soon enough for her.”

He said he had photographs and medical and legal documents to support his claims that some of his young male patients were mistreated in Garda custody.

However, while he anticipated he would be interviewed as part of the review mechanism, this did not take place.

CYNTHIA OWEN

Ms Owen is a survivor of years of abuse at the hands of her parents, including being raped from the age of eight by her father.

She has also said she was sold for sex to a group of 12 men that she alleges included three Garda members.

She lodged a complaint with the independent review mechanism and was seeking a statutory inquiry, to no avail.

Ms Owen gave birth to a baby girl when she was 11 years old. The newborn was found dead and Ms Owen has alleged that her mother killed the child.