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Tribunal may recall senior gardaí after previously unknown contact was discovered

The tribunal is currently looking at contacts between gardaí and the HSE/Tusla relating to garda whistleblower Keith Harrison.

Garda Keith Harrison arrives at Dublin Castle.
Garda Keith Harrison arrives at Dublin Castle.
Image: Leah Farrell via Rolling News

SEVERAL SENIOR GARDAÍ and a senior HSE official may be recalled to give evidence to the Charleton tribunal following the discovery of two new documents relating to garda whistleblower Keith Harrison and contacts between gardaí and the HSE/Tusla.

In the current module, the tribunal is looking at contacts between gardaí and the HSE/Tusla relating to Harrison.

The tribunal had been scheduled to hear closing submissions from legal teams until tribunal barrister Diarmaid McDermott told the inquiry about the new documents.

The first document which mentions Harrison, is the record of a meeting on 29 November 2013 of senior gardaí in the Donegal division, which was attended by senior HSE (now Tusla) official Gerry Hone. The meeting discussed the management of referrals between the two agencies.

The second document, a minute of a monthly Garda regional management meeting on 5 November 2013, includes a single line that Donegal Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn “updated the meeting on the investigation into Garda Harrison”.

In October 2013 a garda statement by Harrison’s partner Marisa Simms led to a Garda referral to the HSE over child welfare issues. The HSE closed the case in March 2014, having found there were no issues of concern.

Both of the new documents referred to meetings held during this period. Simms withdrew her statement to gardaí in January 2014.

Paul Anthony McDermott SC, representing Tusla, said the meeting Hone attended did not seem to have any relevance to the tribunal’s terms of reference, but Hone was happy to return and give further evidence if needed by the tribunal.

The barrister said there were meetings all the time about all kinds of issues, and this meeting did not seem to mention Harrison.

Mark Harty SC, for Harrison, said that further searches should be carried out of all records during the six month period from October 2103 and March 2014 to see if other documents were uncovered by Tusla or gardaí.

Conor Dignam SC, for the Garda commissioner, said that he could provide an affidavit setting out new searches.

Tribunal chairman Justice Peter Charleton said that once the methodology of the searches were set out, they could see which witnesses had to be recalled.

Possible witnesses who might be recalled about the meetings included Chief Superintendents Terry McGinn and Jim Sheridan, Superintendent Eugene McGovern, and Gerry Hone. Retired assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny, who was out of the country on an extended vacation, may also have to be called as a witness.

The tribunal has adjourned, and will resume on Tuesday 24 October.

A single remaining witness relating to a previous module involving Sergeant Maurice McCabe will also be called the same week.

Read: Disclosures Tribunal: Retired garda can’t provide statement as he’s ‘on the far side of the world’

More: Tusla officials reject claim they were ‘leaned on’ to make home visit by gardaí

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Gerard Cunningham

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