Call for probe of garda-drug dealer link

THE Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is considering whether to set up a special investigation into alleged links between a convicted drug dealer and members of a Garda unit.

The independent watchdog confirmed yesterday it had received submissions calling on it to establish a “public interest” inquiry into the matter.

This followed the sudden collapse two weeks ago of a case against Louth man Kieran Boylan, who was charged with trafficking heroin and cocaine worth €1.7 million in Ardee, Co Louth, in October 2005.

It is claimed the prosecution was withdrawn to avoid Mr Boylan revealing details of his alleged involvement with individual gardaí.

This was the second time charges had been brought against Mr Boylan in relation to the matter, and the second time they had been withdrawn. The 37-year-old was sentenced to five years in jail in December 2005 for a separate drugs haul in Dublin Port in 2003.

The DPP’s decision to withdraw the case led to calls from the opposition for the ombudsman to set up a “public interest” inquiry.

A commission spokesman said yesterday: “The matter is under consideration internally within GSOC.”

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 allows the commission to set up an investigation “in the public interest” without having received a complaint regarding garda conduct.

It has set up only one such investigation, which was into the death of Terence Wheelock in Garda custody in September 2005.

The spokesman said they had received “one or two” submissions calling for a public interest inquiry. It is thought one of these is from Louth Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan. The commission is currently investigating a specific complaint, from a Co Louth couple, involving a garda and Mr Boylan.

The decision on whether the commission sets-up a public interest investigation will be eagerly awaited. Close observers suspect that if the ombudsman starts an inquiry it could open a “pandora’s box”, which neither the Garda Síochána, nor the ombudsman commission, might welcome.

If serious wrongdoing is uncovered, it could lead to criminal proceedings.

Moreover, it could unearth unsavoury practices among certain gardaí, or, even worse, in the unit where the gardaí worked, as well as what management knew, and did, about it.

One expert said the commission would have to be very “clear sighted in what it was trying to do and what was possible to do” if it decide to set up an inquiry.

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