Harris apologises for ‘unacceptable breach of trust’ in Dara Quigley case

Extracts from Garda Commissioner’s letter to late journalist’s mother read at inquest

Extracts from a letter from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to Dara Quigley’s mother, Aileen Malone, were read at Ms Quigley’s inquest on Tuesday

Extracts from a letter from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to Dara Quigley’s mother, Aileen Malone, were read at Ms Quigley’s inquest on Tuesday

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has apologised for the “unacceptable breach of trust” by a member of the force who shared images of the late journalist Dara Quigley walking naked in a distressed state, shortly before her death four years ago.

Extracts from a letter to Ms Quigley’s mother, Aileen Malone, were read at her daughter’s inquest on Tuesday.

Tipperary coroner Joe Kelly returned an open verdict at Tipperary Coroner’s Court, sitting in Nenagh, and found Ms Quigley died by drowning on April 12th, 2017. Her semi-clothed body was found in Lough Derg, near Terryglass, at about 9.30pm, by a neighbour of a friend Ms Quigley had been staying with.

The court heard CCTV had captured the arrest of Ms Quigley (36) on April 7th, 2017, when she was found walking without clothing on Harcourt Street, Dublin.

Shane White, an officer with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, said the footage had been filmed by a Pearse Street-based garda on his mobile phone, from a station monitor and shared with one other person who was not a garda.

This was subsequently uploaded to social media and shared before being removed from platforms on April 11th at the request of gardaí. The court heard Ms Quigley was aware of the footage in the days before her death.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) did not recommend prosecution of the garda, who resigned from the force before a disciplinary process was complete.

In his letter, read into the record by Ms Malone, the Garda Commissioner apologised “for the actions of a member . . . who grossly breached Dara’s constitutional and data protection rights in a manner that amounted to an unacceptable breach of trust and privacy”.

The letter, seen by The Irish Times, continues: “The actions of a member of An Garda Síochána in this particular case did not reflect the values and principles which each and every member is expected to uphold, respecting the dignity and human rights of all members of the public whom we serve, most particularly in the circumstances of such vulnerability as experienced by Dara.”

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Malone said she was relieved the inquest was over, adding she had been tempted not to participate.

“Having already endured Dara’s death, the circumstances of her death and then the investigations and the whole disciplinary process and the refusal of the DPP to prosecute . . . all of that was further insult and further structural violence by the State.” She said she had feared re-living the events at the inquest would be another “retraumatising act for the family”.

However, she said individuals, including senior gardaí, had “done their best within the limits of the system”.

Asked if there has been accountability for Dara, she said: “Not really, no.”

Welcoming the resignation of the garda who had shared images of her daughter, she said it was, “a kind of acceptance that he didn’t belong in the force and accepted some responsibility for it”.

Describing her daughter as her “beautiful first-born,” she said: “she had courage and beauty, passion and intelligence. She was as critical of herself as she was of others and described her struggles with honesty and humour.

“We lived different lives but agreed on many things. Dara was inspirational but frustrating, imaginative but stubborn. My life is more peaceful but much emptier and much poorer without her. Fly high, starling.”

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