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Leitrim TD claims gardaí asked informant to carry out burglary at his house

The Sinn Féin deputy made a host of fresh allegations about garda malpractice in Sligo-Leitrim.

Source: Cathy Power/YouTube

SINN FÉIN TD Martin Kenny has made a number of allegations about garda malpractice in the Sligo-Leitrim division.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, the new deputy called for a commission of investigation into the various incidents that allegedly occurred over the past nine years.

He claimed that gardaí in the area have, in that time,:

  • engaged active criminals as informants;
  • run their own informants outside of the official Covert Handling of Intelligence Sources (CHIS) scheme;
  • used informants they have control over to entrap and prosecute people;
  • protected other “rogue gardaí” with secrecy and denial.

He said he is aware of these issues because of discussions with garda whistleblowers – both serving and former members of the force – and alleged informants.

He claimed that a garda informant told him that he was asked by named gardaí to carry out a burglary at his own home.

“The informant claims he did not carry out the robbery. However, my house was broken into in March 2007 and items of value were stolen. I was an elected member of Leitrim County Council at that time,” he said in the chamber.

Missing man

Kenny also raised concerns about the investigation into missing Leitrim man Pat Heeran.

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The man, who he said suffered with addiction issues and was held in high regard in the community, disappeared in 2011 from his Aughavas home.

“Around the time he was reported missing, there was a memo distributed to gardaí about a Pat from Leitrim having been abducted and killed,” he said.

“When they arrived at the home of Pat Heeran to check into the report that he was missing, they considered the real possibility of something sinister and wanted to have the house sealed off as a possible crime scene.

However, senior gardaí dismissed this possibility and told them to make the usual inquiries and he would turn up drunk somewhere.

“After some time, when gardaí management finally agreed to seal off and examine the house, they found it had been burgled in the meantime and was therefore forensically violated for the purpose of evidence gathering.

“There were also a number of individuals with links to Pat Heeran who the investigation team never even questioned – to the dismay of local gardaí.

It is now known that a garda informant was among the last people to be in Pat Heeran’s company before he disappeared.

“Pat Heeran has never been found and his mother and siblings are heartbroken.”

The question is, ‘Was the protection of informants put before the proper investigation into the disappearance of Pat Heeran?’

Stolen tractor

In another alleged incident, Kenny detailed how a man was charged with the possession of a stolen tractor “although there was no evidence other than the tractor may have been collected from beside a farmyard owned by this man”.

According to the deputy, the man had “co-operated totally with the initial garda investigation and was not considered a suspect by gardaí”.

However, a detective sergeant then took over the case and directed that the man be charged, also “to the dismay of the other gardaí.”

Kenny continued: “As the man left the garda station, this detective sergeant followed him and waved the charge sheet at him, saying ‘I can make this go away if you bring me the real culprit.’”

Threats to gardaí

One of the most serious incidents, Kenny said, involves threats to the safety of two serving gardaí from a criminal gang.

“The detailed plans of a group of criminals preparing to attack these two gardaí at their private homes was known about by senior gardaí and for weeks the information was withheld from these men – both of whom have young families,” he read in the chamber.

“The two serving gardaí accidentally found out that the gang were going to attack their homes and had been at their houses at a number of occasions.

“The two gardaí later discovered that one of the gang was reporting his criminal activity to CHIS and that he was also working outside the formal informant programme for other gardaí.

“When confronted on the issue, a very senior garda eventually admitted he knew about the planned attack, but ‘needed to protect the source of the information’.

“The very distraught gardaí were then assured that this would never happen again. And that any potential threats would be communicated and appropriate action taken.

“However, a short time after this, one of these same gardaí was on duty alone in a garda station in Leitrim. He went off duty at 4am and went home. At 8.30am, he got a call to come back in because the station had been attacked and vandalised.

During questioning of a man who had admitted the attack on the garda station, this man claimed he was paid €100 by another local man with a criminal record.

“The garda concerned later learned that there was information in the possession of more senior gardaí that the garda station could be the subject of an arson attack on that very night.

“This garda was in the station alone all night and was not informed of the possibility of any attack.

“The man who it is alleged paid to have the attack carried out was an informant working for CHIS,” concluded Kenny.

Entrapment

The TD also brought up two incidents of alleged entrapment during his speech this afternoon.

“There is an allegation that a garda informant working under the direction of two gardaí robbed tools and a generator from a builder’s shed and then sold the generator to a man whose house was searched the next day and the stolen property recovered,” he revealed.

“The man was subsequently charged and convicted of having stolen property.”

“Another allegation is that a garda informant was instructed by his handlers to set a trap at an NCT centre. He placed money in a car as a bribe to get the car through the test. The car had a minor defect and should not have passed the NCT.

“The informant then told an employee at the NCT centre that the car was nearly OK and he had left a few euros in it. The car was passed and that employee was later charged and convicted with accepting a bribe. And he lost his job.”

“The main witness in the case was a garda informant,” said Kenny.

More recent episodes

Kenny noted that many of the incidents allegedly occurred several years ago but claimed that he has also had contact by serving gardaí who have also made allegations of malpractice.

“It is alleged that senior officers have reprimanded guards who have tried to investigate, or raise concerns about criminal activity, including drug offences, breaches of bail conditions and firearms offences,” he said.

It is also alleged that senior gardaí in Leitrim have been engaged in aggressive and vindictive behaviour towards other members of the gardaí and abuses of positions of authority are common practice leading to an atmosphere of fear and tension throughout the ranks.

In one February 2015 alleged incident, gardaí discovered of pipe bomb along a road near Drumshambo in County Leitrim. The two uniformed gardaí who found the pipe bomb are now being disciplined for their activity around the discovery, Kenny revealed.

“There is widespread disquiet at all ranks in the county that these gardaí who done their job properly are being disciplined,” he added.

It could have the effect; some believe the intended effect, of discouraging other gardaí in the Leitrim district from taking an interest in criminal activity in case they are also disciplined.

In a separate incident, a detective garda in Leitrim became aware of the existence of a gun in the possession of a member of a criminal gang operating in the area. However the information was not put on the PULSE system, no searches were carried out and it was kept secret from almost all gardaí in the Leitrim district.

“A uniform garda inadvertently found out about it and confronted the detective who confirmed it had been reported to him and it was being kept quiet,” continued Kenny.

“The garda immediately reported this to a sergeant who, in turn, confronted senior garda management, who confirmed that they had known about it since its initial reporting. The sergeant expressed concern that uniform members should be made aware of this situation.

“As a result of this, a document was sent informing gardaí in the Sligo Leitrim Division that this person may have a gun; this was nine days after the initial report. This was despite the fact that this alleged criminal was carrying out his activities over a large region.”

Failure to inform gardaí nationwide placed gardaí at an enormous risk. The failure to investigate this also placed members of the public at risk.

Fobbed off

Kenny noted that two members of the force brought these concerns in relation to the handling of intelligence sources to the attention of former commissioner Martin Callinan in 2009 but were “fobbed off”.

Three years later, they approached Justice Minister Alan Shatter with the information. Then in 2014, they held a four-hour meeting with two officials from his office.

Nothing ever came from meeting other than a letter to say no action would be taken, according to Kenny.

As he concluded his speech, he noted that some of the allegations are “right up to date” as well. 

“If true, the conclusion of these accusations, is that a small cohort within the gardaí in Leitrim have considered criminal activity as an opportunity for their own advancement and at times have manipulated situations for their own advancement,” he continued.

“The only way forward is for the Minister to establish a Commission of Investigation into the matters I have raised here today and any other instances of alleged malpractice that may come to forward in the future.”

Read: The Garda Commissioner came in for some serious criticism in the Dáil today

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