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Disclosures tribunal: 'Appalling' idea to hold investigating interviews in station both whistleblower and accused garda worked

The Disclosures Tribunal is in its fifth week of hearing evidence into the treatment of garda Nicholas Keogh.

Garda whistleblower Nicholas Keogh leaving the tribunal in Dublin Castle earlier this week,
Garda whistleblower Nicholas Keogh leaving the tribunal in Dublin Castle earlier this week,
Image: Leah Farrell

IT WAS AN “appalling” idea for investigating interviews to be held in the station where a whistleblower and a senior garda he accused of collusion were both working at the same time, a tribunal has heard. 

The Disclosures Tribunal is in its fifth week of hearing evidence into the treatment of garda Nicholas Keogh, who made a protected disclosure in 2014 

Keogh 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. 

The tribunal, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, is investigating if Keogh was targeted, harassed, undermined, or bullied after he made his protected disclosure on 8 May, 2014.

That month, an investigations team, led by former Acting Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, was formed and later carried out interviews at Athlone Garda Station. 

Sergeant Andrew Haran told Judge Ryan that the decision to hold interviews at this station into Keogh’s allegations was “an appalling idea”. 

“The idea that the investigation of one accusing another while both are in the station and working there – I wasn’t happy with it at all. Some felt a deep discomfort about it. To get the best evidence and answers it should have been taken completely away from Athlone – it’d put everyone in a better place. It was wholly inappropriate. I was interviewed myself.”

Mr Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, asked if the location for the interviews put pressure on Keogh. 

“Definitely, it took a toll. There was a very apparent risk to his mental health, his physical health, his person,” said Sergeant Haran. 

“He’s an emotional person and he goes through peaks and troughs and sometimes if he thinks things might be going against him, he’d struggle. I was fully aware of his problems with alcohol,” said Haran. 

Haran was asked by Mr Marrinan if he had seen any evidence of Keogh drinking after he made his protected disclosure. 

“Periodically but that might be through a phone call. There was no question of him being drunk in work,” said Haran. 

After he made his disclosure, Keogh was asked by Haran to address his unit, Unit C, which had eight staff. 

“There was a sense of anticipation and uncertainty in the station. I thought it would be prudent to chat to everyone. 

“It was the subject of much small-talk and though people were trying not to, it came up. These [Unit C] were people he worked with on a daily basis,” said Haran.

“He [garda Keogh] told them it was ‘nobody in this room’, that no-one present should have any concerns, that it was one or two plain-clothes and senior management that were concerned. 

“He appreciated that there had been unease and he was trying to allay that for us.” 

On 18 May, 2014, Keogh put his allegations regarding Garda A and Miss B on the Garda Pulse system, which can be accessed by any garda. 

“I would’ve advised against anything definitive like that. It’s not something I would have done myself,” said Haran.

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