A Garda Chief Superintendant has said he was “very upset” that a bullying claim was made against him by a Garda whistleblower and described an allegation linking him to missing DVD evidence as “daft and without basis”.
Chief Supt Mark Curran was giving evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal, which is investigating the treatment of whistleblowers by An Garda Síochána, after a protected disclosure.
He told the tribunal that the whistleblower Garda Nicholas Keogh was misguided in accusing him “and a lot of people here”.
The tribunal is in its fourth week and has now finished hearing from Gda 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.
The tribunal, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, is investigating if Gda Keogh was targeted, harassed, undermined, or bullied after he made his protected disclosure of alleged Garda heroin-collusion on 8 May, 2014.
Patrick O'Brien BL, for Gda Keogh, asked Chief Supt Curran if he was aware of “the suggestion of an allegation”, made in Gda Keogh's protected disclosure, against him about evidence DVDs being removed from an evidence store room in Athlone Garda Station.
“Yes, but it didn't happen. It was that I removed DVDs and property from a store in Athlone Garda Station, maybe in the course of an audit,” said Chief Supt Curran.
The Garda team investigating the May 2014 collusion allegation asked Chief Supt Curran, who was then based in Mullingar, for his response.
“I'd done nothing wrong, there was nothing to investigate. There was no basis. That was the first I knew about it,” said Chief Supt Curran. He told Judge Ryan the allegation was “daft”.
Regarding an harassment complaint against Chief Supt Curran about the management of a source of Gda Keogh's, who Gda Keogh refused to hand over for processing, Chief Supt Curran said the management and handling of sources was “supposed to be intrusive”.
Chief Supt Curran said that a source is not the property of a single Garda but that of An Garda Síochána and that specially-trained gardaí, handlers and controllers had to be involved to assess risk and source-credibility.
Gda Keogh has said the the source was handed over to the investigation team and was not a matter for the Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS) management team.
“The risk is too high for a Garda to manage a source alone, without training, safeguards. The tasking of any unregistered source should not be permitted under any circumstance.
“I reject any targeting allegation whatsoever. The Codes of Practice fix responsibility on me, I have control of Gda Keogh. The investigation team doesn't,” said Chief Supt Curran.
Judge Ryan asked what happens to the original Garda when their source is referred to CHIS and the witness, the witness replied: “Gone”.
Regarding an allegation against Gda Keogh that he had coached a witness, who claimed knowledge of Miss B “doing favours for Guards”, Chief Supt Curran said he was obliged to investigate.
“I was doing my duty and was not negligent,” said Chief Supt Curran.
Chief Supt Curran was told of a meeting in Mullingar Park Hotel in which Gda Keogh is recorded as telling investigating gardaí that he had an “open mind” about Chief Supt Curran but because he was friends with another superintendent that the complaint of bullying, harassment or targeting stood.
Mícheál O' Higgins SC, for An Garda Síochána, asked how Chief Supt Curran felt, “now knowing, if that is the flimsy basis, that you were brought into this”.
“It's very upsetting to be in this situation. It's not true and I would never target anyone. It's not in my nature and it's against the values of the organisation. All I can say is that Gda Keogh is misguided in accusing me and a lot of people here,” said Chief Supt Curran.
Chief Supt Curran has completed his evidence. The tribunal resumes on Tuesday, 26 November.