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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 11 November, 2019
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Senior garda officer accuses whistleblower of orchestrated campaign to prevent his promotion

The tribunal is hearing from Garda Nicholas Keogh.

Garda Nicholas Keogh leaving the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle last week.
Garda Nicholas Keogh leaving the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle last week.
Image: RollingNews.ie

 A GARDA CHIEF Superintendent has accused a whistleblower of an orchestrated campaign designed to prevent his promotion and of character assassination by politicians, a tribunal has heard.

The Disclosures Tribunal is hearing from Garda Nicholas Keogh who 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, who had a then-estimated €2,500 a week income.

The tribunal, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, is investigating how Garda Keogh was treated – whether or not he was harassed, targeted or bullied – after he made his protected disclosure in 2014.

Garda Keogh has alleged to the tribunal that he suffered bullying from then Superintendent Patrick Murray, among others, after May 2014, because of his whistleblowing.

That complaint was investigated by Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn.

On 18 January 2016, Superintendent Murray applied for promotion and was informed on 25 May 2016 that he had been successful but the nomination did not go ahead at that time.

On 29 January 2018, the Policing Authority informed Supt Murray that he would be promoted and that it was to be back-dated to 26 October 2017.

Garda Keogh, in his statement, said: “The combination of the general conduct of Asst Comm Finn’s unwieldy investigation of my complaint, together with his obfuscation and unnecessary delay damaged the timely determination of my complaint and I believe facilitated the promotion of Supt Pat Murray to my discredit.”

Judge Ryan heard of diary entries made by Garda Keogh about meetings with then Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Claire Daly in June, 2016.

Garda Keogh wrote letters opposing any promotion of Supt Murray to the GSOC, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, the Policing Authority and later to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

‘Aspersions’ 

In his statement, Supt Murray said that Garda Keogh was “casting aspersions” about him.

Judge Ryan put it to Garda Keogh: “You said he [Supt Murray] shouldn’t be promoted.”

“Yes,” said Garda Keogh. “At least until the [bullying] investigation is finished, yes.”

Ass Comm Donall Ó Culaláin stated that he was not aware of the bullying and harassment complaint by Garda Keogh when he signed the clearance forms in respect of Supt Murray for the Policing Authority on 19 September 2017.

Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, said that Supt Murray, in his statement, noted that Deputy Wallace had appeared on radio about his promotion and the tribunal was told by Garda Keogh that an injunction blocking the promotion had been considered.

In his statement, Supt Murray said: “Garda Keogh was part of an orchestrated process to damage me as much as he possibly could.”

Mr McGuinness said that Supt Murray was then a subject of “public discussion”.

Garda Keogh told Judge Ryan that there had been no letter from Asst Comm Finn to the approving body, the Policing Authority, to say that Supt Murray was being investigated over the bullying allegation.

Supt Murray in his notes wrote: “Phone call from Joe Nugent, Chief Administrative Officer, 18 September 2016. Policing Authority realise they are being unfair to me.”

Mr McGuinness told Garda Keogh that the Policing Authority had made their decision “but delayed because of your concerns”.

Garda Keogh said that he “didn’t see anything from Asst Comm Finn to the Policing Authority.

“I thought he did,” said Judge Ryan.

Mr McGuinness agreed that “the Policing Authority asked Ass Comm Finn to report on the allegations and what he was doing”.

“Supt Murray complains of a campaign against him,” Judge Ryan told Garda Keogh. “You’ve seen that?”

“Yes,” said Garda Keogh. “I blamed the Policing Authority, I nearly blamed the whole State at that stage. No-one informed me that the Policing Authority were writing to him.”

Garda Keogh was asked if he wished to change his complaint.

“No,” he said. “Asst Comm Finn didn’t write to the Policing Authority.”

Three issues of complaint by Garda Keogh are now not to be examined by the tribunal.

One relates to the order of the tribunal, letting people know it was taking submissions being withheld from Garda Keogh.

A second issue related to report from the Minister of Justice being withheld from him.

A third related to a disciplinary investigation of four members of An Garda Síochána.

Garda Keogh has concluded giving his evidence to counsel for the tribunal and will now be examined by counsel for An Garda Síochána, beginning tomorrow. 

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Paul Neilan

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