Garda Ombudsman’s report criticises informant system

An Garda Síochána should be subject to “intrusive and independent” oversight into how it handles informants, the Garda Ombudsman has said in a hard-hitting report.

The watchdog is demanding “immediate and direct” access to the Garda computer system, claiming gardaí “withheld evidence” during its four-year investigation into allegations of collusion between a convicted drugs trafficker and members of the force.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) claimed senior gardaí knew about the relationship between detectives in a specialist unit and dealer Kieran Boylan, who was run “off book”, or outside the official informant system.

Last December, the ombudsman sent a file to the DPP, who directed in April that no charges should be brought against any gardaí involved.

GSOC warned yesterday that the lack of guidance on the use of informants created “significant risks”, as there were effectively no limits on what criminality they were authorised to engage in.

The GSOC probe was set up in Oct 2008 after public concern at how serious drug charges against Boylan were dropped by the DPP.

The attack by the ombudsman sparked a public row with Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, who strongly rejected claims the force was uncooperative and complained at not been given the right of reply by the commission before it went public.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter expressed concern at the public dispute and said he had called a crisis meeting between the ombudsman and the commissioner.

Mr Shatter said he was concerned at the “inordinate” delay in the investigation. He recently met with GSOC over its concerns about access to Garda information and the commissioner was “in no doubt” as to his views on the matter.

In a series of findings and accusations yesterday, GSOC said:

*They had “grave concerns” at the handling and management of informants, “both historic and current”;

*The level of co-operation by gardaí was “highly unsatisfactory” and had a “significant detrimental impact” on their investigation;

*They were not recommending disciplinary action against any gardaí because they believed their actions were known by superiors.

The ombudsman said a “culture of mistrust and competitiveness” had developed between national Garda units due to the selective release of sensitive intelligence to one unit. This had “impacted” on their effectiveness.

It said a state body should operate “independent and intrusive” oversight on the Garda informant system and be able to examine the recruitment/registration and handling of informants, the security of intelligence, documentation, and rewards/incentives for informants.

More on this topic

Government told to stop looking at gardaí as 'some kind of financial imposition'Government told to stop looking at gardaí as 'some kind of financial imposition'

Garda Representative Association loses court case on paid sick leaveGarda Representative Association loses court case on paid sick leave

Fresh bid to trace killers of Detective Garda Adrian DonohoeFresh bid to trace killers of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe

Inspectorate calls for single Garda control centreInspectorate calls for single Garda control centre


Brian Caliendo owns and runs Liber Bookshop on O’Connell St, Sligo, with his wife Ailbhe Finnegan.We Sell Books: ‘I can get it on Amazon, but I prefer to get it from ye’

Dylan Tighe’s overdubbing of a classic tale of depravity to give it an Irish context is one of the most interesting offerings at Dublin Theatre Festival, writes Alan O’Riordan.Classic 120 Days of Sodom redubbed for Irish context

Marian Duggan was in her 20s and could not imagine that her symptoms could be so serious, not even when a tennis-ball-size cyst was removed from her left ovary, says Helen O’Callaghan.'I thought I was too young to have cancer'

Yvonne Young, group assistant director of nursing, University of Limerick Hospitals Group and National Sepsis TeamWorking Life: Yvonne Young, group assistant director of nursing

More From The Irish Examiner