A Garda whistleblower has concluded his evidence after three weeks in the witness box by insisting that a former assistant Garda commissioner engaged in a “deliberate and unmitigated” cover up when investigating his complaints about Garda heroin-collusion in Athlone.
The tribunal is in its fourth week and has now finished 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 if Gda Keogh was targeted, harassed, undermined, or bullied after he made his protected disclosure on May 8, 2014.
On May 9, 2014, then Assistant Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin was among those senior gardaí appointed to investigate Gda Keogh's complaints against members in the Westmeath division.
However, on May 16, 2016, Gda Keogh wrote a letter to then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald alleging a “cover up” in the investigation.
Gda Keogh, the tribunal heard, wrote:
“On October 2, 2015, I made a protected disclosure to GSOC regarding a flawed Garda criminal investigation into a conspiracy to supply heroin involving a member of An Garda Síochána, contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act, which I believe was no more than a deliberate and unmitigated cover up by Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin [an assistant commissioner at the time of the investigation].
Mr Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, asked Gda Keogh if he still maintained that there was a deliberate cover up by former Asst Comm Ó Cualáin.
“I believe so,” replied Gda Keogh.
Gda Keogh said that a tribunal document showed that then Asst Comm Ó Cualáin had written that if the allegations of heroin collusion were true, “it would reflect in an unfavourable light on An Garda Síochána”, Gda Keogh said.
“I'd argue there was motive there. It'd be part of any case for policemen anywhere in the world to establish means, motive and opportunity,” said Gda Keogh.
Judge Ryan asked Gda Keogh if “means, motive and opportunity were there to produce a phoney report?” and was told “yes” by Gda Keogh.
“To produce an deliberate and unmitigated cover up?” asked Judge Ryan.
“Yes,” said Gda Keogh.
The tribunal has previously heard that “former Asst Comm Ó Cualáin and his investigators answer these complaints in detail”, though the tribunal has yet to hear from the investigation team.
Gda Keogh has now finished his evidence after 17 days of the tribunal, which will now move to hear the evidence of three Athlone gardaí - Gda Stephanie Tracey, Sgt Sandra Keane and Sgt Aidan Lyons - and Ms Olivia O'Neill.