Saturday 22 July 2017

Keith Harrison's partner was told 'kids in jeopardy' if she didn't make statement against him

Garda Keith Harrison Photo: North West Newspix
Garda Keith Harrison Photo: North West Newspix
Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying he shares Mr McCabe's "heartache".
Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying he shares Mr McCabe's "heartache"
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison and his partner were subjected to "terrible, terrible treatment", his solicitor has claimed.

Yesterday Mr Harrison came forward to demand that his own treatment at the hands of gardaí and Tusla be included in a public inquiry into the garda whistleblower scandal involving Sgt Maurice McCabe.

The Donegal-based garda claims to be the victim of a five-year intimidation campaign after arresting a fellow officer for drink-driving in Athlone in 2009.

In a letter, released by his solicitor Trevor Collins, the traffic garda said they had "similarly suffered at the hands of An Garda Síochána, have been reported to Tusla and have been ignored when we raised the issues with Government".

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Collins said his client's partner Marissa Simms was brought into a station by gardaí where she was compelled to make a statement against Mr Harrison.

"The Tusla part of it is the one that, from his point of view, is the most upsetting.

"He and his partner were subjected to terrible, terrible treatment whereby his partner was pursued by An Garda Síochána where they in effect forced her and compelled her to come into the station where she was interviewed for eight hours... where she was told that if she did not make a statement against Keith, that effectively her kids were in jeopardy."

He continued: "She was compelled to make that statement, she made it - it was only afterwards when she came out of the station that she realised what happened. she described the experience as just being traumatic, she just wanted to get out of there."

Mr Collins said: "And we have the Tusla file - a referral was sent to Tusla where it was suggested that abuse by Keith Harrison on her children.

"There is a referral from a senior officer with An Garda Síochána - in reply to that referral Tusla said, to be fair to them, wrote back and said there's no issue here to investigate".

This was in late 2013 but Mr Collins told host Paul Williams that this was not the end of the matter.

"Somehow - and this is the part that we do not understand - four months later, Tusla write to Keith Harrison and his partner Marisa Simms and invite them to a meeting to discuss their children. There is nothing on the file to justify that communication. There is nothing new on the file, there is simply utter silence."

He added: "That evening...they were telephoned by the social worker who had interviewed them and told, almost apologetically, 'I have to go and inspect your home'.

"The following day, Tusla social workers descend on the home of Keith Harrison, Marisa Simms and their children to carry out what is a formal inspection... All suggestive of something untoward and abusive on the part of Keith Harrison."

Mr Collins said this "destroyed" them and their "entire family structure was being questioned".

"Their credibility as parents was, in effect, being attacked and Marissa herself was just so worried that the children were going to be taken off them or something of that nature."

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