Chief Superintendent accuses Garda whistleblower of orchestrated campaign to damage him

Chief Superintendent accuses Garda whistleblower of orchestrated campaign to damage him
Garda Nicholas Keogh

A Garda Chief Superintendent has accused a whistleblower of an orchestrated campaign designed to prevent his promotion and of character assassination by politicians, a tribunal has heard.

The Disclosures Tribunal is hearing from Garda Nicholas Keogh who alleges that a senior member of the Athlone drugs unit, identified to the tribunal as Garda A, was in an improper relationship with a heroin dealer, identified as Ms B, who had a then-estimated €2,500-a-week income.

The tribunal, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, is investigating how Gda Keogh was treated - whether or not he was harassed, targeted, or bullied - after he made his protected disclosure in 2014.

Gda Keogh has alleged to the tribunal that he suffered bullying from then-Superintendent Patrick Murray, among others, after May 2014, because of his whistleblowing.

That complaint was investigated by Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn.

On January 18, 2016, Superintendent Murray applied for promotion and was informed on May 25, 2016, that he had been successful but the nomination did not go ahead at that time.

On January 29, 2018, the Policing Authority informed Supt Murray that he would be promoted and that it was to be back-dated to October 26, 2017.

Gda Keogh, in his statement, said:

The combination of the general conduct of Asst Comm Finn's unwieldy investigation of my complaint, together with his obfuscation and unnecessary delay damaged the timely determination of my complaint and I believe facilitated the promotion of Supt Pat Murray to my discredit.

Judge Ryan heard of diary entries made by Gda Keogh about meetings with then Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Claire Daly in June 2016.

Gda Keogh wrote letters opposing any promotion of Supt Murray to the GSOC, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, the Policing Authority, and, later, to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

In his statement, Supt Murray said that Gda Keogh was "casting aspersions" about him.

Judge Ryan put it to Gda Keogh: "You said he [Supt Murray] shouldn't be promoted."

"Yes," said Gda Keogh. "At least until the [bullying] investigation is finished, yes."

Ass Comm Donall Ó Culaláin stated that he was not aware of the bullying and harassment complaint by Gda Keogh when he signed the clearance forms in respect of Supt Murray for the Policing Authority on September 19, 2017.

Mr Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, said that Supt Murray, in his statement, noted that Deputy Wallace had appeared on radio about his promotion and the tribunal was told by Gda Keogh that an injunction blocking the promotion had been considered.

In his statement, Supt Murray said:

Gda Keogh was part of an orchestrated process to damage me as much as he possibly could.

Mr McGuinness said that Supt Murray was then a subject of "public discussion".

Gda Keogh told Judge Ryan that there had been no letter from Asst Comm Finn to the approving body, the Policing Authority, to say that Supt Murray was being investigated over the bullying allegation.

Three issues of complaint

Supt Murray in his notes wrote: "Phone call from Joe Nugent, Chief Administrative Officer, 18 September 2016. Policing Authority realise they are being unfair to me."

Mr McGuinness told Gda Keogh that the Policing Authority had made their decision "but delayed because of your concerns".

Gda Keogh said that he "didn't see anything from Asst Comm Finn to the Policing Authority.

"I thought he did," said Judge Ryan.

Mr McGuinness agreed that "the Policing Authority asked Ass Comm Finn to report on the allegations and what he was doing".

"Supt Murray complains of a campaign against him," Judge Ryan told Gda Keogh. "You've seen that?"

"Yes," said Gda Keogh. "I blamed the Policing Authority, I nearly blamed the whole State at that stage. No-one informed me that the Policing Authority were writing to him."

Gda Keogh was asked if he wished to change his complaint.

"No," he said. "Asst Comm Finn didn't write to the Policing Authority."

Three issues of complaint by Gda Keogh are now not to be examined by the tribunal.

One relates to the order of the tribunal, letting people know it was taking submissions being withheld from Gda Keogh.

A second issue related to report from the Minister of Justice being withheld from him.

A third related to a disciplinary investigation of four members of An Garda Síochána.

Gda Keogh has concluded giving his evidence to counsel for the tribunal and will now be examined by counsel for An Garda Síochána, beginning tomorrow morning.

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