The maltreatment of the civilian staff by sworn officers in the force has been branded a “national scandal” by Labour TD Alan Kelly.
The TDs blasted the force’s top brass after two civilian analysts with the force told the Oireachtas Justice Committee yesterday they were “attacked” and “belittled”.
Analysts Lois West and Laura Galligan were giving evidence as part of an examination as to why the Central Statistics Office has not been prepared to accept Garda figures relating to deaths.
Committee chairman, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, praised the two women for highlighting the issue and giving evidence to them, saying their evidence pointed to a clear cover-up of damaging revelations by senior Garda management.
“You are a very powerful duo ... an example to us all in the public service,” Mr Ó Caoláin said.
Mr Kelly said the evidence given by the two women was “extremely shocking” and showed that little or nothing has changed in An Garda Síochána.
Speaking to the, he said: “The way they have been treated over the past 15 months is nothing short of a national scandal. I believe there was a cover-up at the highest echelons of the force. There was an attempt to attack their work. Their evidence was shocking.
“The tensions between the civilians and the sworn officers in the force is there for all to see and the civilians are being treated in a second-class way,” Mr Kelly added.
Mr Kelly said the two women were the best witnesses he has ever seen before an Oireachtas committee, given their knowledge of the subject, their courage and professionalism.
Mr Kelly, who is vice-chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and who has led the charge on the Garda scandals, called on the Policing Authority to make a statement on the evidence given by Ms West and Ms Galligan who he said “felt let down” by the Authority.
Sinn Féin justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire described the experience of the two analysts “as quite shocking, and worrying.” “It appears there was a repeated failure to treat their reports with anything like the urgency required. These women have shown great courage and resilience in the context of great pressure, stating they felt ‘belittled and treated very poorly’,” he said.
“It was also clear that they felt let down by the Policing Authority, which is deeply disappointing and a cause for considerable concern. Every death should be classified properly, and this isn’t just about statistics, this is about victims and families.”
The committee heard there were 14 deaths which were pathologically considered a homicide, but were misclassified in the wrong crime, or a non-crime, category, in the 2013-15 period.
Responding, the Policing Authority said it was “concerned at what has emerged” but was not in a position to respond fully to the evidence given yesterday as a process with the force is ongoing.