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Sunday 22 October 2017

Whistleblower's partner was 'compelled by gardai to make statement against him'

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison (holding his daughter) and his partner Marissa Simms going into Leinster House for meetings yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison (holding his daughter) and his partner Marissa Simms going into Leinster House for meetings yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison's partner was compelled by gardaí to make a statement against him which led to a Tusla referral, his solicitor has claimed.

Mr Harrison has come 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.

His solicitor Trevor Collins said Mr Harrison's partner Marissa Simms was brought into a station by gardaí where she was compelled to make a statement against Mr Harrison.

This resulted in a file being opened by Tusla in relation to an unfounded allegation of "emotional abuse".

Mr Collins said that Ms Simms was told that if she did not make a statement "her kids were in jeopardy".

A referral was subsequently made to Tusla by a senior garda, the solicitor said.

However, Tusla wrote back and said there was no issue to investigate.

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

But four months later, Tusla again wrote to Mr Harrison and Ms Simms inviting them to a meeting to discuss their children. The solicitor said there was nothing on the file to justify the letter.

A day later Tusla social workers requested an inspection of their home.

Mr Collins said their credibility as parents had been wrongly attacked.

He also said garda authorities failed to comply for almost two-and-a-half years with a request for information from Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigators probing the alleged mistreatment of Mr Harrison.

Investigation

GSOC launched an investigation in August 2014 into claims Mr Harrison was targeted by colleagues after he arrested a drug squad officer for drink driving in 2009.

But the probe stalled due to the failure of garda authorities to release information to GSOC investigators until early this year, according to Mr Harrison's solicitor.

The information was only released after the issue was raised at an Oireachtas Committee and Mr Collins said GSOC Commissioner Mary Ellen Ring had to get personally involved to secure its release.

The garda, who is currently on sick leave but wishes to return to duties, met with a number of politicians yesterday pressing his case for inclusion in the public inquiry which will look into the McCabe affair.

Mr Collins said Taoiseach Enda Kenny had refused to meet them.

However, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone, junior minister Finian McGrath, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the party's justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan all agreed to meetings.

Irish Independent

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