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Garda Keith Harrison battles to quash findings from Disclosures Tribunal

Garda Harrison seeks an order from the High Court quashing findings made in the Tribunal’s second interim report.

Harrison entering Dublin Castle during the Tribunal's hearings  in 2017.
Harrison entering Dublin Castle during the Tribunal's hearings in 2017.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A CASE IS due to be heard today involving Garda Keith Harrison seeking to quash findings made against him in reports from the Disclosures Tribunal last year. 

The Donegal-based garda alleged in the past that harassment of him and his family had been directed by senior garda management, and had fought for his case’s inclusion in the terms of reference of the Disclosures Tribunal.

The tribunal was set up in 2017 to examine claims of an alleged smear campaign against Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe and also Harrison’s claims. 

Harrison and his partner Marisa Simms claimed that a social worker from child and family agency Tusla visited their home only after the gardaí put pressure on particular social workers at the independent agency.

These allegations “simply collapsed” during the tribunal hearings, Justice Peter Charleton found.

Charleton – who was chair of the Tribunal – heard evidence on the matter and released an interim report in November 2017 dealing specifically with Harrison’s claims. 

The Tribunal chairman was critical of Garda Harrison’s behaviour and claims throughout the interim report, describing some of his claims against his garda colleagues as “nonsense”.

Bringing a case 

Harrison brought the High Court action last November on the grounds of an alleged prior professional involvement between the tribunal Charleton and a witness before the tribunal Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn.

The alleged prior engagement related to when McGinn was the Garda liaison to the Morris Tribunal, which considered allegations about gardaí in Donegal, in 2002-05, when Charleton was that tribunal’s Senior Counsel.

In light of the alleged prior involvement, solicitors for Garda Harrison wrote to the tribunal seeking to have the reports about their client set aside.

The Tribunal said in a reply that the steps sought on Garda Harrison’s behalf “were absurd and repugnant to the duty to the Oireachtas and the people of Ireland”.

In his action, Garda Harrison seeks an order from the High Court quashing findings made in the Tribunal’s second interim report and the findings of the third interim report in so far as it relates to him.

He also seeks orders prohibiting the further publication of the second interim report and the parts of the third interim report that relate to him, and that the Judge is precluded from dealing with any other matters relating to Garda Harrison and the Tribunal.

He further seeks a declaration that the judge has acted in breach of the his rights to natural and constitutional justice and under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex parte basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan back in November. 

The case is due for a hearing in the High Court today. 

With reporting from Aodhan O Faolain and Sean Murray

About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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