Garda whistleblower review may become a full inquiry

The review into the alleged mistreatment of garda whistleblowers could be widened into a full-blown inquiry, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s office has said.

Garda whistleblower review may become a full inquiry

Pressure is growing for the review of the treatment of garda whistleblowers to include other gardaí who have raised allegations of malpractice.

Retired judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill has been asked to examine the latest allegations. These include claims by Superintendent Dave Taylor that senior gardaí orchestrated a smear campaign against whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

The former garda press officer, in a protected disclosure to Ms Fitzgerald, claims he was instructed to spread rumours and lies about Sgt McCabe to media and politicians. Supt Taylor says text messages on a mobile phone back up his claims. But the handset was taken into garda custody during separate inquiries into leaks to the media about a Roma child.

Any inability of Judge O’Neill to access the phone may curtail the inquiry, it was claimed yesterday. Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath said: “I would accept that that [the phone] will be an important part of any investigation.”

Mr McGrath said on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics: “You can take it the Independent Alliance will raise that at Cabinet level.”

Separately, there is pressure for the review to be widened, or for a larger inquiry. The review, currently, is looking at internal garda reports, believed to be from Sgt McCabe and Supt Taylor, and two separate documents by John Barrett, a head of human resources for the force. Judge O’Neill is to report back within six weeks.

But other whistleblowers want to be included. Nick Keogh, in the garda drugs squad in Athlone, has sent a solicitor’s letter to Ms Fitzgerald asking to be included. He alleges malpractice in the force and collusion with criminals.

Frances Fitzgerald

Frances Fitzgerald

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison has also complained to Ms Fitzgerald of the “narrow” review, RTÉ reported. He says his career was ruined after he arrested a detective garda for suspected drink driving.

Former Public Accounts chairman, John McGuinness, has called for a wider review, saying there were “deeper problems”.

The Department of Justice last night said Judge O’Neill’s review would report in six weeks and would include any recommendations for “further action, which may be appropriate and warranted to address the allegations”.

Ms Fitzgerald’s department added: “This could, of course, include forms of statutory inquiry, if the review sees fit.”

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