This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 15 August, 2020
Advertisement

Garda whistleblower had pay incorrectly cut despite sick certs, tribunal hears

The tribunal is investigating if Garda Nicholas Keogh was targeted after he made his protected disclosure on 8 May 2014.

Garda whistleblower Nicholas Keogh arriving at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle in October.
Garda whistleblower Nicholas Keogh arriving at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle in October.
Image: Leah Farrell

A WHISTLEBLOWER GARDA who became dependent on alcohol due to work-related stress had his condition exacerbated by having his pay incorrectly cut, a tribunal has heard.

The Disclosures Tribunal is in its tenth week of hearing evidence into the treatment of whistleblower Garda Nicholas Keogh, who made a protected disclosure in 2014.

Garda Keogh alleged 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 Garda Keogh was targeted, harassed, undermined, or bullied after he made his protected disclosure on 8 May 2014.

The tribunal heard from HR Chief Superintendent Tony McLoughlin, who was made protected disclosures manager in 2016, of his interactions with Garda Keogh over the mis-recording of his sickness and therefore the cutting of his pay.

Chief Superintendent McLoughlin said that his role was to act as recipient for confidential reporters and to supply updates to them and to Garda management but he was also involved in the health and welfare of Garda Keogh.

In late 2015, Garda Keogh’s pay was cut to a ‘temporarily reduced remuneration’ level after he had been out sick for 183 days in a four-year period.

His absences were recorded on the Garda system incorrectly as ‘flu/viral’ which led to the pay-cut, even though his GP had been submitting sick certs for work-related stress.

1691 Disclosures Tribunal Garda whistleblower Nicholas Keogh leaving the Disclosures Tribunal in October. Source: Leah Farrell

Chief Superintendent McLoughlin said he received a call from Garda Keogh in June, 2016, during which the garda “admitted he had been drinking”.

It was obvious, he was incoherent – and I mean no disrespect to Garda Keogh – he admitted it and said he was going to drink more in the afternoon.

“He was annoyed, he said he was sick with stress,” said Chief Superintendent McLoughlin, who met Garda Keogh that month in Tullamore.

At the meeting, Garda Keogh said he had stopped drinking and was ok with a discussion. He said he had become dependent on alcohol because of work-related stress and I asked him for reasons for the stress.

Chief Supt McLoughlin said that Garda Keogh said that he had listed issues with management, how the investigation into Garda A was being handled, that he was annoyed about the cut in pay, of how management viewed him and that he felt singled out because of his allegations.

A note by Chief Supt McLoughlin read that Garda Keogh “believes that [Garda Commissioner] Noirín O’Sullivan failed to protect him”.

Garda Keogh also gave Chief Supt McLoughlin a document titled ‘harassment index’ that outlined his issues in writing.

Chief Supt McLoughlin then emailed Garda HR and management, saying Garda Keogh should not be “on reduced pay until it is proven that there wasn’t a causal link between the reason for his absence and work-related stress.

“We tend to reduce pay first while we wait on a decision and this increases the stress and exacerbates the problem. There is a change of mindset required here.”

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The chief superintendent signed off: “Urgent. Mark my words, it will at some stage appear in the media or in the Dáil.”

Chief Supt McLoughlin told Judge Ryan: “We had cut his pay while the organisation was saying it supported people coming forward. I felt there was a dichotomy there.”

In July 2016, Garda Keogh was accepted into a 22-day residential care facility for his alcohol dependency. In October, when his absences were being recorded as work-related stress, which came under a category similar to ‘work-related injury’, his pay was restored and back-dated.

“The Garda Commissioner and our own policy says we will support any complainant under the Protected Disclosures Act. Therefore, he had a right to have his pay restored and I stand over that today,” said Chief Supt McLoughlin.

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Paul Neilan

Read next:

COMMENTS