Garda whistleblower raised concerns about colleague having access to guns

A Garda whistleblower raised concerns about a colleague he accused of colluding with an Athlone heroin dealer having access to guns, The Disclosures Tribunal has heard.

Garda whistleblower raised concerns about colleague having access to guns

A Garda whistleblower raised concerns about a colleague he accused of colluding with an Athlone heroin dealer having access to guns, The Disclosures Tribunal has heard.

The Tribunal is hearing from Garda Nicholas Keogh who alleges that a senior member of the Athlone drugs unit, identified to the tribunal as Garda A, was in an improper relationship with a heroin dealer, identified as Ms B, who had a then-estimated €2,500 a week income.

The tribunal, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, is investigating how Gda Keogh was treated - whether or not he was harassed, targeted, or bullied - after he made his protected disclosure in 2014.

Gda Keogh wrote to garda management about Garda A's access to firearms and said he was concerned that Garda A was “under pressure” because of an internal investigation arising from Gda Keogh's allegations.

He complained about the handling of the investigation and the fact that it would have been known to Garda A that Gda Keogh had made the protected disclosure about him.

He made complaints to management about the presence of Garda A being in the station on duty while being investigated over Gda Keogh's claim of collusion.

Gda Keogh and Garda A were often on overlapping shifts and in the same office at the same time and Gda Keogh described to the tribunal an incident that happened in the public office in Athlone Garda Station on May 5, 2014, the day after the protected disclosure.

"I remember seeing Garda A taking his gun out of the safe behind me in the public office so that I could see him.

I remember thinking to myself that 'if he shoots me everyone will know I was telling the truth'.

However, Diarmaid Guinness SC, for the tribunal, said that Sgt Andrew Haran had stated to the tribunal that there was no safe in the public office.

Gda Keogh said there were renovations going on at the time and there was a safe in the public office.

"There was the glass part of the public office hatches in front of me that had reflective glass," Gda Keogh told Judge Ryan. "I could see behind me, over my shoulder, that he had a gun. But he didn't point it at me. He was just behind me with a handgun."

Gda Keogh raised the matter with then Superintendent Noreen McBrien and said he was concerned that Garda A was also "under pressure" because of his disclosure.

In June 2014, Supt McBrien asked Garda A's direct superior for an update on what guns Garda A had access to and to monitor his well-being.

Detective Sergeant Eamon Curley wrote back to Supt McBrien in September 2014, stating that he was "satisfied that Garda A was fit to carry a firearm", and that Garda A did not have his own weapon but that he had access to four Smith & Wesson revolvers and two Sig pistols.

"My point was that he was under pressure," Gda Keogh told Judge Ryan.

Gda Keogh had also objected to Garda A not being arrested on suspicion of his complaint and of interviews with gardaí not being conducted away from the station.

While Garda A was later suspended as a disciplinary matter, the claims of evidence fell short of a prosecution by the DPP as a large amount of the evidence in Gda Keogh's claim was judged to be circumstantial.

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