Thursday 27 April 2017

Second garda seeks to be included in probe after 'family referred to Tusla'

Garda Keith Harrison Photo: North West Newspix
Garda Keith Harrison Photo: North West Newspix
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Pressure is mounting on the Government to expand the scope of the public inquiry into the alleged smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe after a second garda claimed his family was also subjected to unjustified referrals to Tusla.

Garda Keith Harrison alleged other gardaí were responsible for referring his family to the child and family agency.

He made the allegation in a statement in which he called for his own case to be included in the public inquiry.

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.

He also alleged that repeated letters to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald had met with no substantial response and that she had refused to meet with him.

Garda Harrison's allegations of wrongdoing in the force were first aired by Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty in the Dáil in May 2014. The TD outlined how Garda Harrison alleged Garda management maliciously targeted him while the arrested garda was afforded protection.

A managerial review of his work practices was launched and people he had arrested were invited to make complaints against him.

The TD said Garda Harrison had been kept office-bound for almost two years while the garda he arrested was still driving official vehicles and carrying an official firearm.

He said Garda Harrison also alleged an officer in the Westmeath division prevented successful prosecutions of individuals in a number of cases.

In a statement issued via a solicitor last night, Garda Harrison and his partner Marisa Simms claimed their family had been the subject of unwarranted and prolonged overt and covert surveillance, victimisation, bullying, intimidation and harassment.

The garda said rumour, innuendo and malicious falsehood had been spread to certain members of the media, politicians and garda colleagues.

Unjustified referrals were made about his family to Tusla by gardaí, he said.

He also claimed there were deliberate attempts to frustrate an investigation into his disclosures by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

Garda Harrison also said he was the subject of disciplinary action and had been threatened with criminal prosecution.

"It is clear to us the incidents contained in the disclosures of Superintendent [Dave] Taylor and Sergeant McCabe are not isolated but rather, along with our experience, identifies a common approach within the senior management of An Garda Síochána to whistleblowers," the statement said.

"The similarities between the experiences we have endured and the McCabes cannot be ignored by this Government or the political establishment."

Garda Harrison said that contrary to public statements from the Tánaiste and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, he had not received support and encouragement, but in fact quite the opposite.

"We have lost complete confidence in the ability of both to address our concerns and bring our living hell to an end."

He said his family would not rest until the case was included in the public inquiry.

It is understood Ms Fitzgerald has received an interim report on the issues raised by Garda Harrison. However, she did not comment on the garda's statement last night.

Tusla declined to comment, saying it could not discuss individual cases.

Irish Independent

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