Irish News

Friday 19 September 2014

Whistleblower vindicated in review

Published 09/05/2014 | 13:12

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Gardai immediately issued a child-abduction alert after the alarm was raised

Ireland's police force, its watchdog and the justice ministry failed in their duties to properly investigate allegations of corruption and malpractice, a damning report has found.

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A review of claims of bad policing by a respected whistleblower in An Garda Siochana has warned that no official body was prepared to act on the word of the highly regarded officer.

In a 300-page report containing shocking cases of negligent police work, barrister Sean Guerin has called for a statutory inquiry to examine the force - the latest in a series of full scale tribunals into policing standards in Ireland.

The State inquiry is being urged to examine several Garda investigations which were brought to the attention of the authorities but inadequately acted on.

These include cases involving sex offences, child abduction, false imprisonment of a girl and child pornography.

It also recommends a probe into how the Garda chief, former commissioner Martin Callinan, and Alan Shatter, who resigned as justice minister on Wednesday, dealt with the disturbing concerns flagged up to them.

The Guerin review pointed the finger at the Garda, the Garda Ombudsman and the Department of Justice for failing to heed the word of Sergeant Maurice McCabe after he first raised concerns in September 2012.

"No complex organisation can expect to succeed in its task if it cannot find the means of heeding the voice of a member whose immediate supervisors hold him in the high regard in which Sgt McCabe was held," the report said.

"Ultimately, An Garda Siochana does not seem to have been able to do that.

"Nor does the Minister for Justice and Equality, despite his having an independent supervisory and investigative function with specific statutory powers.

"The same appears to be true of Gsoc (Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission)."

Mr Guerin hit out at the ombudsman's office for not making documentation available to his review in relation to Sgt McCabe's complaints and how they were handled.

The report found concerns over the adequacy of the investigations into Sgt McCabe's complaints and whether all appropriate steps have been taken.

Mr Guerin concluded that there was a danger in policing circles that a critical voice is heard as a contrary one.

"The whistleblower, like the referee from whom he gets his name, is seen as someone who is not on the team," it said.

"The challenge of accommodating and learning from the legitimate criticism is always going to be a difficult one, especially in a disciplined force."

The review said that Sgt McCabe was found to have acted without malice in making his reports of wrongdoing.

But Mr Guerin said the officer - respected by four high ranking officers who gave glowing references of his police work - suffered personal and professional consequences which give cause for concern.

The report has called for a state inquiry to specifically examine:

:: The Garda investigations into several public order incidents and a possible sex assault in Co Cavan in 2007;

:: The handling of an assault and a child abduction by killer Jerry McGrath in Tipperary and his bail arrangements;

:: The assault and false imprisonment of a girl in Cavan in 2007;

:: The loss of a computer seized in the investigation of sex offences and child pornography by a priest.

:: Malpractice and corruption relating to the Garda records system Pulse.

:: The investigation by the Garda Commissioner and Justice Minister into the concerns raised by the whistleblower.

Press Association

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