Hundreds to be quizzed in garda sex harassment investigation

OFFICERS from Garda Internal Affairs are expected to question hundreds of people who attended a pre-Christmas party in the garda training college, after which two female trainees claimed they were victims of sexual harassment.

Two gardaí accused of sexually harassing female recruits have been transferred from the garda training college. A Garda Superintendent is heading up the internal investigation.

Fine Gael has called on Justice Minister Michael McDowell to make a statement on the nature of the inquiry in the Dáil.

GRA general secretary PJ Stone said: “They have been removed temporarily and they are being facilitated elsewhere. We don’t have a problem with that, it might be fairer to them as well.”

Mr Stone said it was essential that the investigation was conducted speedily.

“We have to make sure there is fairness and equality in every aspect. There are a number of families involved and there is pain there,” he said.

The two female trainees alleged that after the party they were followed to their block by two males. The women’s quarters, which is off-limits to men, is within the college complex at Templemore, Co Tipperary.

Both men strenuously deny the allegations, which are believed to be the first complaints of their kind since the college opened in 1964.

There are 533 students and probationer gardaí in Templemore, of which 353 are males and 180 female. In addition the college is staffed by 230 people, 89 of whom are civilians. Certificates are to be presented today to 134 graduates, including 50 females.

In 2002, a garda policy document on sexual harassment introduced guidelines to ensure there was a “structured approach” for any problems that arose.

Fine Gael spokesman on Justice Jim O’Keeffe said: “I find these allegations extremely disturbing and I will be calling for the inquiry to be completed as soon as possible and in as open and transparent a way as possible.”

He said it was his understanding that while there are guidelines in place for dealing with harassment and bullying within the gardaí, they may not be as comprehensive for trainees.

Mr O’Keeffe said he would be asking Mr McDowell to outline in the Dáil the nature of the investigation at Templemore.

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