Composition of policing body ‘not a matter for Garda Commissioner’

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it is not a matter for him to decide whether it is appropriate for someone with a recent assault conviction to sit on a county’s most senior policing committee.

Composition of policing body ‘not a matter for Garda Commissioner’

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it is not a matter for him to decide whether it is appropriate for someone with a recent assault conviction to sit on a county’s most senior policing committee, the Joint Policing Committee (JPC).

Mr Harris was asked for comment on his way into the meeting in Tralee of councillors, community representatives, local authority officials, and senior police officers who make up the Kerry JPC.

Independent councillor Jackie Healy Rae, aged 24, was one of three men convicted last November of assault causing harm in a dispute that arose near a chip van in Kenmare, Co Kerry, in 2017.

He received a suspended sentence and intends to appeal the conviction.

Mr Healy Rae was elected to the council in May 2019 and was appointed unopposed by his fellow councillors to the Kerry JPC at the council’s annual general meeting in June.

Among the issues raised by Mr Healy Rae with Mr Harris at the JPC meeting today were alleged garda leaks to the press “when it comes to different cases investigated by the gardaí”.

The councillor asked how it can arise that a person makes an appointment to be interviewed by gardaí and this information is on the “front page of a national newspaper the very next day”.

Mr Healy Rae also asked how it arises that, at each and every turn of an investigation, members of the media — some of whom were present — could ring someone up and tell them when they were due to be in court “when the person doesn’t know themselves”.

The leaks were not necessarily from the Kerry Division, he said.

Asked by Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill if he was referring to his own case and whether this might be a conflict of interest, Mr Healy-Rae said he was referring to “different cases”.

The Garda Commissioner said it is not appropriate for gardaí to leak information and it is a breach of discipline and may, in some cases, breach data protection legislation.

Gardaí who do so put their own careers and livelihoods in jeopardy, he said.

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