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Sunday 21 September 2014

Fresh claims of harassment and assault by gardai

Majority of complaints came from Justice4All

Published 27/04/2014 | 02:30

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Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Picture: Mark Condren
Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Picture: Mark Condren

New allegations of garda malpractice being examined by Taoiseach Enda Kenny include accusations of assault, harassment and the wrongful imprisonment of members of the public, documents seen by the Sunday Independent reveal.

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In several of the statements people claim they were maliciously targeted by gardai after they made complaints about other members of the force.

Speaking in the Seanad three weeks ago, Mr Kenny said: "I've got three dozen cases on my desk now of allegations from members of the community, members of the gardai, about actions and allegations that are very serious. I have no idea if any of them are true or not."

The Taoiseach's office last week confirmed that the majority of the complaints came from Justice4All.ie – an organisation established by TDs Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Joan Collins.

The organisation handed over 27 signed affidavits from people who claim they have been failed by the justice system.

One individual claims he was wrongly accused of dozens of offences ranging from assaults to dangerous driving because of a planning permission row with a judge.

The same person alleged his pregnant wife was assaulted by a garda.

Another person claims his life was put in danger when gardai told criminals he was a registered informer.

It is also alleged key evidence for potentially serious crimes went missing before cases went to trial.

In most cases, the allegations were previously raised with the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) but those who complained were not satisfied with the outcomes of their investigations.

Justice4All.ie was established following public meetings, and European election candidate Mr Flanagan dedicated a key member of his Oireachtas staff, Pat Fitzpatrick, to liaise with the group's committee.

Last year the group compiled 22 complaints from its members and gave them to Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

"Many of those who come to me on issues relating to the gardai are hardened and have not been broken by the system," Mr Flanagan told the Sunday Independent.

It is understood the Department of Justice wrote to the Garda Ombudsman seeking information on the outcome of investigations which were contained in the affidavits.

GSOC was limited in the information it could legally give the department but it did confirm that investigations took place, and the number of complaints dealt with in each instance.

Mr Shatter responded to the majority of the complainants in the past two months and encouraged some people to make submissions to the Justice Committee ahead of legislative changes to the Garda Siochana Act.

However, many who forwarded their complaints to the minister still felt aggrieved and last month the group handed a batch of signed legal affidavits to Mr Kenny.

In one of the cases, a father of three who has an ongoing legal case against gardai accuses other members of the force of filing a false referral report to child protection services about his children.

He alleges gardai told social services he left his young children alone in his house for three days.

He claims in his affidavit that he proved this to be untrue and that a Health Service Executive (HSE) investigation was dropped.

Another complainant alleged he received 31 "malicious summonses" which he believes were fabricated.

He believes he began receiving the summonses after he received planning permission to build a house beside a judge.

The man also alleges his pregnant wife was assaulted by gardai while attending a court hearing. On another occasion, he claims gardai beat his "testicles and upper torso" while he was in custody.

He wrote: "I say that it is important to verify that I have never once in my life broken a law, never had a tendency to break a law, or have never engaged in any criminal activity."

In another account, an individual claims he was forced to flee the country because gardai gave his identity to another person who then became a garda informer, using his name.

It is understood it was the individual's brother who took on his identity when he was out of the country.

Due to the "misappropriation" of his identity, he claims there were several attempts made on his life.

According to his statement, he fled the country following advice from gardai.

He claims that when he eventually returned he continued to be harassed and intimidated by unnamed individuals.

He also claims a black wreath was left at his door on one occasion.

The Garda Ombudsman (GSOC) carried out an investigation into his claims, but according to his statement it concluded there was insufficient evidence to back up his allegations.

In another case, a woman alleges her husband was imprisoned for three terms in prison for refusing to leave their ancestral home after family members forged land registry documents.

Sunday Independent

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