Garda whistleblower denies orchestrating campaign 'to end the career' of superintendent

Garda whistleblower denies orchestrating campaign 'to end the career' of superintendent
Garda Nicholas Keogh. Pic: Collins

A Garda whistleblower has denied orchestrating a “pincer movement” campaign “to end the career” of a superintendent, a tribunal has heard.

Garda Nicholas Keogh is giving evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal, where counsel for An Garda Síochána are cross-examining him.

The tribunal is in its third week 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, who had a then-estimated €2,500-a-week income.

The tribunal, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, is investigating if Gda Keogh was targeted, harassed or bullied after he made his protected disclosure on 8 May, 2014.

Senior Counsel for An Garda Síochána, Shane Murphy, questioned Garda Keogh on what information he had passed to TDs about his Athlone superintendent, Patrick Murray, and about a letter he wrote to then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

Gda Keogh wrote to the Policing Authority, Deputy Fitzgerald, to Garda HR and to then Deputy Leo Varadkar over 2017, saying that he felt the investigation into his bullying complaint of Supt Murray should be concluded before any promotion that Supt Murray was seeking took place.

Assistant Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin completed clearance forms in September 2017 for Supt Murray, stating that there were no disciplinary matters to interfere with Supt Murray's promotion.

Gda Keogh had made a formal complaint of bullying and harassment in March of 2017 against Supt Murray.

Mr Murphy turned to pages of Gda Keogh's diary, which noted meetings with independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to whom Gda Keogh would pass information.

Supt Murray in his statement to the tribunal said that in January Deputy Mick Wallace raised the issue of Gda Keogh's car tax being raised. Gda Keogh alleged he was being targeted for car tax matters, among other things, after he made his protected disclosure.

Gda Keogh confirmed that he had given the information on the car tax to Deputies Wallace and Daly but that “Clare Daly and Mick Wallace don't go about shouting just anything".

Garda Nicholas Keogh. Pic: Collins
Garda Nicholas Keogh. Pic: Collins

Supt Murray would later be named in the Dáil by both deputies regarding alleged wrongdoing in the Westmeath region.

It was put to Gda Keogh that he was "triggering" the deputies to use the Dáil's privileged speech rules to attack Supt Murray in publishing his name “to leave it out there”. Mr Murphy said that Gda Keogh had “orchestrated a pincer movement” on Supt Murray, whose career Gda Keogh wanted to “bring down”.

Gda Keogh replied: “No. I inform them and have no other part. I'm not pulling the strings. If they want to promote Supt Murray after the investigation is over, I've no problem.”

Mr Murphy said: “You were targeting Supt Murray with no basis and without a chance to defend himself.”

“I'm exposing corruption,” said Gda Keogh.

“Pat Murray has the whole of Garda management behind him.”

Mr Murphy accused Gda Keogh of putting his “own spin on matters” and said: “Did you hold a press conference with Clare Daly and Mick Wallace outside or away from the Dáil? No, you needed Dáil privilege."

Mr Murphy said that Supt Murray had been “falsely accused” in that there was never any prosecution of him, nor any conviction ever recorded - “there's no basis”.

“You know full well there's no corruption,” said Mr Murphy.

Gda Keogh said: “There is evidence. I printed it off and gave it to them.”

Judge Ryan asked Gda Keogh if he thought there was corruption and was told “yes, but at a lower level, not criminality”.

Supt Murray has stated that a Garda inspector called to Gda Keogh's home in May 2016 and reported him to be drunk and claiming he would “bring down the commissioner [Nóirín Ó Sullivan], Dónall Ó Cualáin and me”.

Gda Keogh told Judge Ryan that in May 2014, Commissioner Ó Sullivan had said whistleblowers would be supported “but I was being butchered”.

Gda Keogh said Supt Murray was a “lackey” for Asst Comm. Ó Cualáin, who wanted to “cover up the heroin investigation” and that Supt Murray was sent to Athlone to get Gda Keogh out so management was “free to do a cover-up”.

Mr Murphy said Gda Keogh was “not out sick and on the defensive but on the attack”.

“I was driven out work," said Gda Keogh. “Human beings have two instincts: to fight or flight. I'm standing my ground and fighting and it's why I'm here with evidence to reinforce my beliefs.”

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