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'This work is entirely separate': Tribunal to hear cases of other garda whistleblowers from June

Mr Justice Sean Ryan has taken the reins from previous Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

Chairman Mr Justice Seán Ryan
Chairman Mr Justice Seán Ryan
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

THE NEW CHAIRMAN of the Disclosures Tribunal has said that hearings on the next section of the inquiry will get under way in June, with proceedings likely to continue into 2020.

Delivering opening remarks at Dublin Castle this morning, Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the work he’ll be doing is “entirely separate” from the previous work of the Tribunal – which investigated claims from gardaí Maurice McCabe and Keith Harrison.

The Tribunal was set up by the Oireachtas with 16 terms of reference – mostly on matters related to McCabe.

Judge Charleton ruled that that there had been a “campaign of calumny” run against Maurice McCabe by senior gardaí, delivering his findings last October in a landmark report.

Mr Justice Ryan will deal with just one term of reference – the last one – “to consider any complaints by a member of the Garda Síochána who has made a protected disclosure prior to 16 February 2017 alleging wrongdoing within the Garda Síochána where, following the making of the protected disclosure, the garda making the said protected disclosure was targeted or discredited with the knowledge or acquiescence of senior members of the Garda Síochána”.

In other words, it applies to any garda who made a protected disclosure of wrongdoing within the force before that date who subsequently believes they were targeted or discredited, and senior gardaí either knew about it or permitted it.

The first case that the Tribunal will hear will be that of Nick Keogh – an Athlone-based garda who made a formal complaint about garda collusion in the sale and supply of heroin in the region. 

Mr Justice Ryan said he expects hearings to begin on Keogh’s case in June.

“The Tribunal is anxious to proceed as expeditiously as possible,” he said. 

The judge added that he can only look at cases within his specific remit from serving or retired gardaí, and that some cases may not be within his power to look into.

“It is understandable that some persons making complaints to the tribunal may be
disappointed to find that it is not possible to investigate their grievances because
they are not within the tribunal’s remit and therefore inadmissible,” he said.

It’s understood that the Tribunal may hear cases from four to five current or former gardaí over the course of this process. 

“Other cases will follow later in the year and as I anticipate into 2020,” Mr Justice Ryan said.

The tribunal will also address issues of admissibility and notify persons who made complaints of the decisions. We will proceed with our mandate as expeditiously as possible, consistent with observance affair procedures.

With reporting from Michelle Hennessy

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