Flanagan claims whistleblower links high-ranking gardaí to heroin dealing

 Luke Flanagan: Branded Garda Nickey Keogh 'a hero'.

High-ranking Garda officers were involved in a ploy to coerce citizens into buying hard drugs to boost crime detection figures, the Dáil was told yesterday.

Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan said a new whistleblower from within the Garda has come forward with a fresh dossier of alleged corruption linking the force to heroin dealing.

“We have a situation here where heroin dealing and the Garda Síochána are being connected,” he said.

In the Dáil, Mr Flanagan said Garda Nicky Keogh — based at Athlone Garda station — has handed the evidence over to retired judge Patrick McMahon, an interim watchdog charged with overseeing whistleblower allegations.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said everybody shared the concerns raised by the latest claims, which come amid a wave of controversies that have rocked the force, resulting in the resignations of the Garda chief and the Justice Minister.

Mr Flanagan, who represents Roscommon-South Leitrim, said the fresh dossier includes serious allegations of a Garda cover-up, stolen files, manufactured evidence and the failure of officers to fully comply with court orders to hand over records.

The independent politician singled out one particular case for mention.

“The whistleblower’s greatest concern with the drugs operation in November 2009 is that there was a systematic and orchestrated effort by high ranking Garda officers to induce and coerce Irish citizens — in this case with no previous criminal convictions — to buy drugs from drug dealers and in doing so, putting them in personal danger and in turn to sell drugs to undercover gardaí without making any profit, thus boosting crime detection figures for arrest,” he said.

Mr Flanagan said among allegations handed over by the serving Garda officer was a claim his colleague threatened a defendant to plead guilty on the day of his hearing.

“A further grave aspect, of grave concern, in relation to the planning of this operation was that the list of nominated persons to be targeted had a notable omission in that a significant and well-recognised drug dealer in the area who has been seen long associated with a senior member of the drugs unit was excluded,” he added.

Appealing for whistleblower protection, Mr Flanagan said the mostly young citizens targeted in the alleged operation now have serious drugs convictions.

“Nicky Keogh is a hero,” he told the Dáil.

“I wish I knew more heroes like him. There are plenty of them in the Garda Síochána, he’s done them proud today and I hope they shake his hand rather than tie a knot in a rat’s tail and put it on his door.”

Representing the Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Leaders Questions, Mr Quinn said a Garda Authority, based on the Northern Ireland model, was being established along with a whistleblowers’ charter as part of a raft of reforms for the force.

“We will move to have those things put in place so the kind of thing you are describing today will no longer be necessary,” he said.

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