Investigation of alleged Garda malpractice in Cavan-Monaghan

Claims of inefficiency and malpractice between 2007 and 2010 including murder case

Sean Guerin investigated claims from Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe (above)  that serious crimes were not properly investigated by gardai.

Sean Guerin investigated claims from Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe (above) that serious crimes were not properly investigated by gardai.

 

The most serious allegation to be examined by a new Commission of Investigation into Garda operations is how a man who murdered a woman was on bail at that time despite having committed two serious assaults that year.

Minister for Justice France Fitzgerald has announced Government approval of the commission, which will investigate certain eleven specific allegations of failure and malpractices in the Cavan-Monaghan Division of the Garda Síochána.

The sole member of the commission will be former High Court judge Kevin O’Higgins. The commission is expected to conduct the bulk of its work in private and to report by the end of the year.

In all there are 11 terms of reference, all relating to alleged inefficiencies and malpractice in that Division. The allegations have been made by Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe and formed the basis of the ‘dossier’ of allegations that were handed by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to Taoiseach Enda Kenny earlier this year.

The establishment of the commission into the 11 specific allegations was a central recommendation of the report drawn up by barrister Sean Guerin, after he conducted a preliminary review of the material. The criticism in that report of former minister for justice Alan Shatter led to his resignation.

The 11 allegations of inadequate or failed investigations carried out by gardaí range from relatively minor matters to one grave incident.

That relates to the case of a Tipperary man Jerry McGrath who was out on bail after being charged with a serious assault charge in Baileboro, Co Cavan in February 2007.

In October that year, while still on bail, he was caught trying to abduct a child in Co Tipperary in October 2007. Notwithstanding his history of assaults, McGrath did not have his bail revoked. Two months, in December 2007, later he murdered 33-year-old Sylvia Roche Kelly in a Limerick hotel.

Mr Guerin’s report concluded there were serious inadequacies in the handling of this situation by gardaí including in the areas of co-ordination and communication.

The commission has been asked to inquire into investigation of the assault carried out by McGrath on Mary Lynch near Virginia, Co Cavan on April 30th, 2007 as well as the abduction of a child during the burglary of a house in Tipperary on October 9th, 2007.

Specifically, it has been asked to examine the management and coordination by An Garda Síochána of those investigations, in particular in relation to the question of bail.

Other terms include inquiries into the adequacy of Garda investigations in that division into assaults and public order offences. One is a possible sexual assault on a bus in February 2007; another is of an assault at the Lakeside Manor Hotel in Virginia in April the same year.

The commission has also been asked to inquire into allegations of malpractice and corruption made by Sgt McCabe after Pulse records were seized from him in October 2010.

Ms Fitzgerald said the Government had accepted Mr Guerin’s recommendation that a Commission of Investigation “would be desirable in the public interest to ensure continuing confidence in the institution of An Garda Síochána and the criminal justice system”.

She confirmed that all of the matters recommended by Mr Guerin for further investigation had been included in the terms of reference.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said his party had given Sgt McCabe support in his efforts to disclose his allegations to the public, including highlighting the dossier in the Dáil.

“That battle was much more difficult than it should have been and it took too long, but the announcement today that a Commission of Investigation is being established under the leadership of Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins is very welcome and represents vindication for Sgt McCabe,” he said.

Sgt McCabe and another Garda whistleblower John Wilson also welcomed the development.

“I am calling on all members of An Garda Síochána who will be interviewed by this Commission of Investigation to resist putting loyalty to their colleagues ahead of honesty and truth,” Mr Wilson said.

“I believe that the victims of alleged garda malpractice deserve nothing less,” he said.

The Garda Representative Association said its members would co-operate fully with the commission, adding that gardaí in Baileboro would have an opportunity to tell their side of the story.