‘Significant deficiencies’ in Garda inquiries

The report by Seán Guerin report documents information which "supports" allegations by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe of "significant deficiencies" in Garda investigations in Bailieborough.

The senior counsel said that, if the “deficiencies” he identified in his investigation were widely replicated elsewhere, it would challenge “public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

Mr Guerin said the investigations in question were conducted by “inexperienced, probationary gardaí”, operating with little or no supervision and said this was a “significant issue”.

His report is highly critical of internal Garda inquiries into Sgt McCabe’s allegations, likening them to a “process of filtration” where “any matter of concern” is removed and only what was good was left.

He said he “cannot share the view” of now retired deputy Garda commissioner Nacie Rice, who described the internal inquiry by assistant commissioner Derek Byrne and chief superintendent Terry McGinn, as “professional and impartial”.

He said their investigation appeared to breach Garda policy by failing to seek comment from Sgt McCabe to their evidence before reaching a conclusion.

Referring to his investigation into the investigations complained of by Sgt McCabe, the report said: “An analysis of the original Garda investigations in Bailieboro District reveals information which supports the allegation that there were significant deficiencies in the conduct of those investigations.”

Mr Guerin said it was a striking feature in almost all cases that the original investigation was conducted by inexperienced, probationary gardaí.

“There is little, and in some cases no, evidence in the papers I have seen of appropriate supervisory and management guidance and, in almost all cases, no clear sense that investigations were being kept under review on an ongoing basis,” he said.

“The deficiencies identified in the investigations considered in this review, if they were widely replicated, would be a challenge to public confidence in the criminal justice system itself.”

Mr Guerin said his finding that the complaints were not adequately investigated was not a determination that Sgt McCabe’s allegations were true and that he was finding no fault with individuals.

He said the deficiencies might be due to individual or systematic failings, including the absence of an inspector and the high turnover of superintendents.

Mr Guerin said there was a “routine preference” in the internal investigation to accept the evidence of senior officers. He said this approach was replicated at the “highest level” and said former commissioner Martin Callinan wrote to Minister Shatter describing the allegations as been “answered.”

He added: “The overall impression given by the internal Garda investigative process was that complaints or matters of concern were put through a process of filtration or distillation so that, by the end of the process, any matter of concern had been removed as a form of impurity, and only what was good was found to remain.”

A spokesman for acting commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan said they were studying the report and would identify actions to be taken. He said the ban on Sgt McCabe’s access to Pulse was still under review.

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