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Acting Commissioner writes to minister about 'concerns' with Garda tribunal office

Labour’s Alan Kelly called the unit a “filter system that gardaí don’t have confidence in”.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE ACTING GARDA Commissioner has written to the Minister for Justice about concerns relating to gardaí’s cooperation with the Disclosures Tribunal.

The Department of Justice confirmed to RTÉ’s Sandra Hurley, who first reported the development, that it had received the letter and was giving it “careful consideration”.

A Garda spokesperson confirmed to TheJournal.ie that earlier this week, Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin wrote to the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to bring “to his attention an internal concern raised with the Acting Commissioner relating to the Garda Disclosures Tribunal Coordination Office”.

Responding to the news on Prime Time tonight, Labour’s Alan Kelly said that it was the case that gardaí didn’t have confidence in this tribunal office, which he said was effectively “filter system” and a “clearing house”.

He said that he had written 25 parliamentary questions to the Minister for Justice on the subject, and questioned the office in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week.

They have written to the minister on a number of occasions saying that they believed the unit wasn’t working properly and it wasn’t certainly something they would use and they raised a number of concerns.

“I had written 25 parliamentary questions to both the current minister and the previous minister on this and they have been fobbed off.

Last week in the PAC the Acting Commissioner didn’t want me to ask questions on this, but subsequently the head of HR John Barrett confirmed to the committee that he had written to the minister a number of times raising concerns on this.

He said that the concerns had been raised under Section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act, which means a matter is of such significance that it must be brought to the attention of the Minister for Justice by the Garda Commissioner of the day.

It’s only the second time I understand that the letter has been used. So that shows you the level of concern here.

He said there are real questions around how the unit was set up, how it’s being used, who is using it and “are gardaí comfortable using it?”

Background

The Disclosures Tribunal, under the helm of Judge Peter Charleton, has been tasked with discerning whether Garda whistleblowers were treated unfairly within the force because they reported malpractice within An Garda Síochána.

At the centre of the case is whether Sergeant Maurice McCabe was at the centre of a smear campaign.

The handling of the Maurice McCabe case has, at least in part, resulted in the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald earlier this week as Tánaiste and Minister for Business.

Her resignation prompted criticisms of the operations of the Department of Justice, including from the current Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and one of his predecessors Alan Shatter.

Earlier this evening, the second interim report of the Disclosures Tribunal found that the evidence of Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison was “nonsense”.

The Department of Justice has been contacted for comment.

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

Read: Charlie Flanagan apologises to Taoiseach and Dáil for giving ‘inaccurate’ information

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