Gardaí took action against us because we spoke out, say whistleblowers

Two whistleblowers in the gardaí have been subjected to disciplinary action in highly unusual circumstances after their respective decisions to speak out on what they saw as malpractice within the force.

Both men believe the actions taken against them were entirely due to their status as whistleblowers.

One of the officers, John Wilson, has since retired, but the second, a serving sergeant, is to give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday on an investigation into cancelled penalty points.

The serving officer was subjected to a disciplinary action in relation to a computer seized from a paedophile priest, and suspected of containing child pornography images, which went missing.

Although the sergeant had nothing to do with the investigation in which the computer was seized, he was the only officer subjected to disciplinary action in relation to the loss.

One barrister who examined the case offered a legal opinion that: “I think we are all agreed the investigation has most likely been promoted by virtue of the fact that [whistleblower’s name] availed of the confidential reporting regulations and charter. Indeed the investigation has all the hallmarks of a shambolic exercise.”

The sergeant fought the charge and highlighted the shortcomings in the internal investigation. In the end, it was decided that disciplining him would be “unsafe”, but he emerged from the process shocked that it could have linked him, even in a tenuous manner, with child pornography.

The other whistleblower, former officer John Wilson, was disciplined last year before he left the force on the basis that he had appeared in court while off-duty. He was asked to account for his presence in a case in Cavan. There was no allegation he had done anything wrong in being there, but when he refused to account for his actions while off-duty he was subjected to a disciplinary process.

Wilson initiated legal action against the findings of the internal process and the High Court is due to rule on his application in the coming weeks.

Both cases once again highlight issues as to the treatment of whistleblowers within An Garda Síochána. Wilson retired from the force last July, after what he described as being subjected to constant harassment since he had gone to the confidential recipient.

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