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Gardaí to examine disciplinary procedures after Tribunal report on Keith Harrison

Mr Justice Peter Charleton made a number of recommendations for changes to disciplinary procedures in his report.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton published his report into claims by Garda Keith Harrison yesterday.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton published his report into claims by Garda Keith Harrison yesterday.

IN A STATEMENT today, An Garda Síochana has welcomed the findings of Mr Justice Peter Charleton’s report into claims made by Garda Keith Harrison, and said that it was considering his suggestions on how to change disciplinary processes.

Yesterday, the judge found that the claims from Harrison and his partner Marisa Simms “are entirely without any validity”.

Harrison had claimed that harassment of him and his family had been directed by senior garda management, and fought for his case’s inclusion in the terms of reference of the Charleton Tribunal.

He and Simms claimed that gardaí coerced a statement from her detailing instances of aggression from Harrison to her, and that gardaí subsequently put pressure on Tusla to have a social worker visit their family home.

In today’s statement, An Garda Síochana said it particularly welcomed “the Justice’s finding that garda members individually in Donegal and the organisation as a whole acted correctly in dealing with the issues under examination”.

The gardaí also said they would “now consider Mr Justice Charleton’s recommendations in relation to disciplinary procedures”.

In his closing recommendations, Charleton cited Mr Justice Frederick Morris, and said “it is far too difficult to dispense with the services of those who are unsuited to police work or who are just not prepared to work”.

In the Morris Tribunal report, it said: “Members of the gardaí against whom any wrong is alleged have the dubious, and often exploited, benefit of procedures that compare with those in a murder trial.”

Charleton went on in his own report: “Those gardaí accused of ill-discipline should be subject to correction by senior officers without the need to resort to the elaborate structures set up that constitute what is in effect a private trial using procedures akin to our criminal courts.

A simplified structure is called for… The discipline process as it currently exists is far too easily impeded by court applications.

He added that “substantial grounds” must be shown before any judicial review for such a case could be issued.

Read: Acting Commissioner writes to minister about ‘concerns’ with Garda tribunal office

Read: Disclosures Tribunal: Keith Harrison and Marisa Simms claims ‘entirely without any validity’

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Sean Murray

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