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Garda whistleblower insists former assistant commissioner engaged in 'deliberate and unmitigated' cover-up

The tribunal is in its fourth week and has now finished hearing from Garda Nicholas Keogh.

Garda Nicholas Keogh
Garda Nicholas Keogh
Image: RollingNews.ie

A GARDA WHISTLEBLOWER has concluded his evidence after three weeks in the witness box by insisting that a former assistant Garda commissioner engaged in a “deliberate and unmitigated” cover up when investigating his complaints about Garda heroin-collusion in Athlone.

The tribunal is in its fourth week and has now finished 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 if Garda Keogh was targeted, harassed, undermined, or bullied after he made his protected disclosure on 8 May 2014.

On May 9 2014, then Assistant Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin was among those senior gardaí appointed to investigate Garda Keogh’s complaints against members in the Westmeath division.

However, on 16 May 2016, Garda Keogh wrote a letter to then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald alleging a “cover up” in the investigation.

Garda Keogh, the tribunal heard, wrote: “On 2 October, 2015, I made a protected disclosure to GSOC regarding a flawed Garda criminal investigation into a conspiracy to supply heroin involving a member of An Garda Síochána, contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act, which I believe was no more than a deliberate and unmitigated cover up by Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin [an assistant commissioner at the time of the investigation].

“I believe this investigation was similar to the internal Garda investigation into Garda misconduct in Donegal in the 1990s, which was exposed by the Morris Tribunal,” Keogh wrote. 

Mr Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, asked Garda Keogh if he still maintained that there was a deliberate cover up by former Asst Comm Ó Cualáin.

“I believe so,” replied Garda Keogh.

Garda Keogh said that a tribunal document showed that then Assistant Commissioner Ó Cualáin had written that if the allegations of heroin collusion were true, “it would reflect in an unfavourable light on An Garda Síochána”, Garda Keogh said.

“I’d argue there was motive there. It’d be part of any case for policemen anywhere in the world to establish means, motive and opportunity,” said Garda Keogh.

Judge Ryan asked Garda Keogh if “means, motive and opportunity were there to produce a phoney report?” and was told “yes” by Garda Keogh.

“To produce an deliberate and unmitigated cover up?” asked Judge Ryan.

“Yes,” said Garda Keogh.

The tribunal has previously heard that “former Assistant Commissioner Ó Cualáin and his investigators answer these complaints in detail”, though the tribunal has yet to hear from the investigation team.

Garda Keogh has now finished his evidence after 17 days of the tribunal, which will now move to hear the evidence of three Athlone gardaí – Garda Stephanie Tracey, Sergeant Sandra Keane and Sergeant Aidan Lyons – and Ms Olivia O’Neill.

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Paul Neilan

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