Suspicious deaths all properly investigated, says acting Garda chief

Gardaí reclassified 12 cases and ‘there may have to be additional amendments’

The acting Garda commissioner insists all suspicious deaths have been properly investigated. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The acting Garda commissioner insists all suspicious deaths have been properly investigated. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Acting Garda commissioner Dónal Ó Cualáin has insisted all suspicious deaths have been properly investigated by An Garda Síochána.

Mr O’Cualáin is to appear before the Oireachtas committee on justice to respond to allegations by two whistleblowers that some homicides committed in the State had not been classified properly and had not been investigated in a manner matching the offence.

The commissioner has denied the claims insisting a review into 41 cases has been completed and determined they were all adequately investigated by the force.

Twelve of the cases were re-classified and Mr O’Cualáin admits there may have to be additional amendments.

In his opening statement to the committee, seen by The Irish Times, he said: “In each of those 12 deaths family members of the deceased were contacted to inform them of the change in the incident classification and offer them advice and information on victim support organisations that may be of help to them.

“I am conscious of the need to protect the identify of victims and victims’ families. Chair, I am sure you share the same concern. I am also conscious that a number of the 12 cases are before the courts or currently under investigation and may be subject to further classification changes on Pulse.”

Main allegations

News of the protected disclosure and the main allegations contained in it emerged in The Irish Times two weeks ago.

The two Garda civilian employees are also suggesting information, drawn by qualified data analysts, on the extent of homicide misclassifications, was available to gardaí since 2016.

The acting commissioner confirms this was known to them since that year but stresses steps were taken on receipt of the information.

The Garda Analysis Service conducted the review of the cases highlighted and a working group was established in January 2017 to examine the difficulties.

Mr O’Cualáin said the organisation is conscious of the need to have a high quality data across all crime areas stressing a number of measures have been taken in this area.

He accepts criticisms that the gardaí could have acted sooner but stresses these matters take time.

“This is a highly complex area – often of a very complicated, fluid and sensitive nature, relating to case files, and each and every case being analysed and reviewed.

“Given the seriousness of the crimes involved it is important that this process is thorough, detailed and robust.”