Garda whistleblower complaints will not be investigated
Tribunal to instead examine if gardaí were discredited after making protected disclosures
Garda whistleblower Nick Keogh made a number of allegations in a protected disclosure in 2014 including claiming that gardaí were inflating crime statistics by inducing people to buy drugs from dealers and then selling them to undercover officers, who seized the contraband and reported a detected crime. Photograph: Barry Cronin
Complaints by garda whistleblowers that gardaí were inducing people to engage in dealing in drugs, as well as other allegations of malpractice, will not be investigated by the Disclosures Tribunal when public sittings resume in late June.
A new series of sittings are set to investigate complaints from a number of Garda whistleblowers, starting with Garda Nick Keogh, a short sitting of the tribunal on Thursday heard.
Garda Keogh, who is based in Athlone, made a number of allegations in a protected disclosure in 2014, including claiming that gardaí were inflating crime statistics by inducing people to buy drugs from dealers and then selling them to undercover officers, who seized the contraband and reported a detected crime.
He also claimed that following the making of the protected disclosure, he was subjected to harassment within the force.
In an opening statement on Thursday in Dublin Castle, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said the tribunal will not be investigating the claims made by whistleblowers in protected disclosures, but rather whether gardaí were targeted or discredited, with the knowledge or acquiescence of senior officers, after making a protected disclosure.
Mandate of tribunal
Mr Justice Ryan explained that the tribunal’s mandate was not to investigate the claims made in a protected disclosure, but rather the conduct towards the garda subsequent to the disclosure.
He said that gardaí who had made disclosures may be unhappy that substantial or significant parts of their allegations will not be examined in public sittings.
“The reality is that no tribunal would intentionally engage in a process which it was not authorised to do.” He believed it was important that there was no misunderstanding in relation to this.
The tribunal is preparing for a series of public hearings, starting in late June, which will be covered by its final term of reference, term of reference P. It is expected that the hearings, involving a number of complainants, will continue into 2020.
Diarmuid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, said the first complaint to be considered in public sittings would be from Garda Keogh. A case management type meeting would be held on April 30th, in which the parties affected could discuss, in private session, what they thought the relevant issues were, and what matters were admissible.
The Disclosures Tribunal was established by the Oireachtas in February 2017, under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Peter Charleton. He published a report in October 2018 which covered the bulk of the tribunal’s terms of reference, most of which had to do with Sgt Maurice McCabe.
However he did not inquire into matters covered by term of reference P, which he commented was “P for parked”.
That section of the tribunal’s work is now being chaired by Mr Justice Ryan, while Mr Justice Charleton, who has a continuing role in terms of costs in relation to terms of reference A to O, remains in place as chair of the overall tribunal.
Term of reference P says: “To consider any other complaints by a member of the Garda Síochána who has made a protected disclosure prior to February 16th, 2017, alleging wrong-doing with the Garda Síochána where, following the making of the protected disclosure, the garda making the said protected disclosure was targeted or discredited with the knowledge or acquiescence of senior members of the Garda Síochána.”