Garda chief to say suspect deaths were ‘overlooked’

Dónall Ó Cualáin.

The acting Garda commissioner will today admit that gardaí “overlooked” revisiting or upgrading a number of investigations into suspicious deaths which has resulted in the homicide data debacle.

For the first time since the homicide statistics scandal broke, acting garda chief Dónall Ó Cualáin will also say common issues have arisen in the Garda review of cases.

He is expected to be pressed by the Oireachtas Justice Committee about the force’s review of 41 cases and why investigations were not updated to homicides.

The CSO put on hold its publication of Garda crime statistics arising from its dispute with the force about their recording. Mr Ó Cualáin is also expected to confirm that the force is not ready yet to start releasing statistics once more.

His statement to TDs and senators on the committee will say:

Certain commonalities have been identified in the cases reviewed such as the revisiting and upgrading of investigate actions and crime classification on Pulse, which had been overlooked.

Gardaí are now expected to recommend changes to the Pulse system because of the homicide statistics review, which has looked suspicious deaths recorded between 2013 and 2015.

TDs will be told: “It is also important that each death is recorded accurately on Pulse to ensure an Garda Síochána, our stakeholders and society at large has the most up-to-date information available on natural, accidental and suspicious deaths recorded in Ireland at any particular time.”

The Garda chief will say that to date 12 of the 41 cases have been reviewed and two are before the courts. However, the review will not be finished by the end of April, despite a previous commitment by the force.

Mr Ó Cualáin will add: “The review team has also consulted with a number of external bodies to ensure independent data quality. These include the office of the state pathologist, the courts service and the coroners inquests. As a result of findings so far, the review team has made a number of recommendations for changes to Pulse.”

The committee is expected to hear the force has enlisted the help of Transparency International to train gardaí on how to handle whistleblowers and their concerns.

“Transparency Ireland is also assisting with the review of an Garda Síochána’s existing practices,” Mr Ó Cualáin’s opening statement is also expected to say.

The group is training four protected disclosure managers with the force.


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