Gsoc received 24 whistleblower complaints last year

Garda watchdog currently working through 36 separate allegations of wrongdoing

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) was dealing with 36 separate complaints from garda whistleblowers at the start of this year, two thirds of which were lodged last year. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) was dealing with 36 separate complaints from garda whistleblowers at the start of this year, two thirds of which were lodged last year. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

 

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) was dealing with 36 separate complaints from garda whistleblowers at the start of this year, two thirds of which were lodged last year.

The figures were included in Gsoc’s annual report on protected disclosures which was published on Tuesday.

Last year was the first time protected disclosures were dealt with by a dedicated unit in the ombudsman’s office which was established to handle the growing number of complaints.

A protected disclosure is an allegation of wrongdoing made in confidence to certain agencies, such as Gsoc. Gardaí can make protected disclosures for a wide variety of reasons including if they believe an offence has been committed or a miscarriage of justice has occurred.

Gsoc received 24 new protected disclosures last year and handled another 25 which had carried over from 2017. Thirteen of these investigations were dropped during the year.

The watchdog provided a variety of reasons as to why an investigation could be dropped including if a complaint is already under investigation by another agency or if it is “in the public interest” to cease an investigation.

Other reasons include if a complaint falls outside Gsoc’s remit or if investigators cannot discern the source of the complaint in circumstances where they received it “third or fourth hand”.

A dedicated protected disclosures unit was established by Gsoc last year to handle garda whistleblower complaints. It was given permission to recruit a total of 10 investigators and support staff to man the unit. However, only four were in place when the report was compiled.

“The remaining positions continue to be filled in 2019,” Gsoc said.