Justice Minister to meet campaigners for garda reform

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will meet Independent TDs and a garda whistleblower tomorrow to discuss setting up a forum to handle dozens of serious complaints against the force.

The meeting is planned as the Cabinet today discusses the long-awaited Cooke report into claims that the offices of the Garda Ombudsman Siochana Ombudsman may have been bugged.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore last night met and discussed the Cooke report. Ms Fitzgerald also studied the findings.

She will meet with campaign group Justice4All tomorrow over calls for a forum to be set up to handle a series of new allegations, including malpractice and corruption, against serving gardaí.

Campaign group chairman and retired garda John Wilson said the group had “confidence” in Ms Fitzgerald and was hoping to progress its calls for the new forum.

Just days before the local elections, Mr Kenny said ministers had agreed to set up the forum to handle an “endless stream” of allegations against gardaí.

Justice4All say they have 83 files, including 27 affidavits already forwarded to Mr Kenny and another eight serious cases they are compiling.

Some of the more serious allegations include claims that gardaí were involved in drug-dealing in Limerick or that they failed to properly investigate a number of deaths in the county too.

Another claim is that gardaí failed to investigate a drink-driving case in Dublin as one of the drivers involved knew a local garda.

Mr Wilson said: “We and the TDs have been inundated with allegations. But we don’t have the resources. People have no faith in going to the garda ombudsman, as it is constituted. There needs to be a scoping exercise where the claims can be gone through so a decision can be taken to investigate them further.”

Independent TDs Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, and Joan Collins, who have raised claims against gardaí in the Dáil, will all attend tomorrow’s meeting.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet is expected to discuss the Cooke report today after it was delivered to Enda Kenny’s office last Friday.

It was not known last night if the report will be published today or if other Cabinet members would also get a copy of it.

Retired judge John Cooke was appointed to conduct an investigation after a row over bugging claims erupted in February between GSOC and then-justice minister Alan Shatter.

A sweep of GSOC’s offices had uncovered “three technical and electronic anomalies” or security breaches.

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