Talks sought over fresh garda claims

John Wilson

Garda whistleblower John Wilson has sought a meeting with the newly appointed justice minister over fresh claims of Garda misconduct.

The retired garda’s request for face-to-face talks with Frances Fitzgerald comes as the Government yesterday said the new claims were “very serious” and would be dealt with promptly.

Despite the pledge, Leo Varadkar, the transport minister, warned it was now clear that the Department of Justice was not fit for purpose and that An Garda Síochána was in crisis.

Mr Wilson is chairman of campaign group Justice4All, a forum which includes several Independent TDs. The group have given 22 affidavits about allegations to the Department of Justice and 27 to the Department of the Taoiseach.

These claims include:

- The family of a man who say his death was not by misadventure and want another hearing. They claim no convictions were made as the person involved has connections with garda;

- A psychiatric nurse who says he witnessed the death of a patient in Garda handcuffs and who says he was subjected to ongoing harassment by gardaí after he went public with his claims;

- A doctor who claims some of his patients were brutalised while in Garda custody and that he was intimidated after refusing to keep quiet about the cases.

Mr Wilson’s letter, seen by the Irish Examiner, was sent to Ms Fitzgerald last week just after Alan Shatter resigned as minister. It says: “The replies received back from your predecessor were not sufficient. We still await the Taoiseach’s replies.

“ seek to meet with you, Minister.

“We would value the opportunity to discuss our experiences face to face with you. We believe that, by having a discussion with you, you will be made aware first hand of how the system has let down the citizens.

“We believe that we can be of great assistance to you in getting a better Garda force and a better GSOC in place.”

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the latest claims against gardaí were “very serious”.

“The important thing is that the allegations are examined and investigated as quickly as possible,” he said.

The Cabinet tomorrow will discuss options for a statutory inquiry on separate claims against gardaí by whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe and how they were not properly handled by the force or the Department of Justice. Sgt McCabe has said he feels vindicated, after the Guerin report last week recommended the full inquiry.

It found there was no independent investigation into Sgt McCabe’s concerns and that Mr Shatter failed under his statutory responsibilities to act on the Garda’s claims.

Sgt McCabe had his full access to the Garda Pulse system restored on Saturday.

The Oireachtas justice committee will this week begin hearings on changes to the oversight of the force, with contributions from campaign groups as well as representative bodies.

However, Mr Varadkar yesterday warned the force was in “crisis”, and suggested the Department of Justice was “not fit for purpose”.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming said there was “too much of a cosy relationship” between senior department officials and the force.

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