Garda whistleblower, Keith Harrison, outlines troubled relationship with partner at time of statement

A garda whistleblower has outlined the troubled relationship with his partner which led to her making a statement of complaint against him in October 2013, writes Gerard Cunningham.

In the current module, the tribunal is looking at contacts between gardaí and the HSE/Tusla in relation to Garda Keith Harrison, which he alleges amount to an abuse of power.

The statement, which was made by Garda Harrison’s partner, Marisa Simms, was referred to GSOC and Tusla, and was later withdrawn by Ms Simms.

Today tribunal barrister, Pat Marrinan SC, went through several text message exchanges at the end of September 2013 between Ms Simms and Garda Harrison. During this time, Ms Simms had moved in with her sister following an argument with Garda Harrison.

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison and Marisa Simms entering the Disclosures Tribunal

Garda Harrison said Ms Simms had left the house voluntarily after the argument. "I have never put or directed or told Marisa to leave the home," he said.

In the text message exchange, Garda Harrison asked Marisa what was wrong and asked her to come back to him. In her responses, she referred several times to how he had "threatened to burn" her.

Garda Harrison said he could not explain that any mention of burning was not a threat when communicating by text.

"In relation to the threats to burn, they did not happen," Garda Harrison said.

Garda Harrison agreed that he had earlier cheated on Marisa, on one occasion while she was in hospital when she lost a baby in an ectopic pregnancy.

"I didn’t behave appropriately, Mr Chairman," Garda Harrison said.

"This was actions I’m not proud of, and I wish I hadn’t done, but I did them," Garda Harrison said.

"It was never intended as emotional abuse, but I didn’t think," he said.

Garda Harrison said that during this time, he was not the person he had been previously, and the person he is now. He said he was deeply ashamed of how he had hurt Ms Simms.

"I knew myself that I was out of order, I knew that I needed to so something. There was behaviours that I needed to address," he said.

"I knew in myself there was something going on in me that just wasn’t right."

Garda Harrison said he had asked for the tribunal, although he knew that private and embarrassing details of his life would be made public.

He said that after Ms Simms made a statement to gardaí on October 6, 2013, he “wasn’t worried about the content of that statement because I knew that I had done nothing wrong."

In a statement made at the time, Sergeant Paul Wallace recorded that he was told by Garda Harrison on October 7, 2013, that Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn had come into the room while Marisa Simms was making her statement in Letterkenny Garda Station and said, "No guard’s to treat women like that. I’ll see to that."

Earlier, Ms Simms told the tribunal she had not seen Chief Superintendent McGinn at all during her time at the garda station.

Garda Harrison said that he had done nothing wrong, and that although he had said things he shouldn’t have said, he certainly didn’t threaten Ms Simms.

He said the text messages in which Ms Simms spoke about threats he had made to burn her were sent to hurt him, but they weren’t true and he had never threatened that.

Garda Harrison said he had no recollection of a meeting on April 24, 2012 about his use of the Garda Pulse computer system. He said he had a meeting with retired Chief Superintendent Jim Sheridan about his car insurance.

"We spoke about the car, that was it," Garda Harrison said.

The tribunal chairman asked why the chief superintendent wouldn’t talk to him about Pulse, when he knew Garda Harrison was using the system to check on his girlfriend.

"I wasn’t checking on her. I was checking on who else was checking on her," Garda Harrison said.

The garda said he believed senior officers were checking up on Ms Simms on Pulse, and seeking information on where Garda Harrison was living.

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