Garda inquiry into undercover policing in Ireland branded a 'whitewash'

Garda inquiry into undercover policing in Ireland branded a 'whitewash'

Activists who allege a British undercover police officer operated in Ireland have branded a Garda inquiry into his activity a whitewash.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was tasked late last year with a second internal probe into the activities of a spy from London's Metropolitan Police after an original inquiry in 2011 found no evidence of criminality.

Campaigners wrote to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald demanding she seek Ireland's inclusion in a public inquiry in England and Wales over undercover policing.

Activist Kim Bryan, who claims she was targeted by Met spy Mark Kennedy in England and in Ireland, criticised the minister's response.

"I am bitterly disappointed by the closed process Frances Fitzgerald has established, with an internal garda report into undercover policing," she said.

"It makes a mockery of the justice process if this review examining undercover policing in Ireland does not take into account the evidence of those that were spied on, and as such I would seriously question its legitimacy."

The Shell to Sea campaign, which opposes the Shell Corrib gas project in Mayo, and Shannonwatch, which opposes the use of Irish airports by US military also claim to have come in contact with Mr Kennedy.

Ed Horgan, Shannonwatch spokesman and a United Nations elections' inspector, said: "We would be very supportive of a proper investigation into this guy's actions. Who paid? Why? Were the gardai using such an agent provocateur?"

Mr Kennedy is believed to have been in Ireland between 2004 and 2006.

Anti-globalisation campaigner Jason Kirkpatrick, who says he was a victim of abuses by the Met's undercover unit, is taking a High Court challenge in Belfast this week to force the public inquiry in England and Wales to be extended to the North.

The inquiry was announced by then home secretary Theresa May in March 2015 under the leadership of Christopher Pitchford, following revelations about the activities of Mr Kennedy, who admitted having "intimate relationships with a number of people while undercover".

Mr Kirkpatrick and Ms Bryan are among 200 core participants in the Pitchford inquiry.

Forty-two cases have been found where dead children's names were used to provide cover identities for officers by the inquiry and there have been calls to extend the Pitchford inquiry to cover actions of officers in Germany and Scotland.

In a reply to a series of parliamentary questions on the issue of British undercover police in Ireland, Ms Fitzgerald has repeatedly said that see would "fully consider" any findings that relate to Ireland.

The Department of Justice defended its request for a second internal inquiry on the issue.

"The Garda authorities are in ongoing contact with their counterparts in the London Metropolitan Police Service in the context of co-operation across a full range of policing issues," a spokesman said.

"It should be noted that there is no question of a police officer from outside the jurisdiction exercising police powers here in Ireland. Any such person is subject fully to our laws and any evidence of breach of our criminal law would be fully pursued."

US citizen Sarah Hampton said she has received an apology from the Met after having a year-long relationship with Mr Kennedy while in Ireland in 2005.

She said she knew him as Mark Stone and that she suffered deep depression after discovering the truth.

"No-one should ever be under any circumstance coerced, invaded, violated and deceived by an undercover police officer through sexual relationships," she said.

"Despite the apology I have many unanswered questions. I have not received the files the police have on me. I want to know to what extent my private life has been invaded by the UK police force and what justification is there for it."

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