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Saturday 3 December 2016

A force in fear of talking to the media puts public at risk

Reprimanding of whistleblowers is just the tip of the iceberg, as senior ranks run scared, writes Jim Cusack

Published 09/10/2016 | 02:30

Old guard: Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter Picture: Steve Humphreys
Old guard: Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter Picture: Steve Humphreys

The term "whistleblower" has become central to discourse on the Garda Siochana as a result of a decision taken more than a decade ago, and almost forgotten.

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In order to ameliorate criticism of the criminal offence introduced by then minister for justice Michael McDowell, in the 2005 Garda Siochana Act, threatening gardai with seven year's imprisonment and, or, a €75,000 for "unlawful" disclosure of information, an office known as the Official Recipient was set up.

This was to be staffed by a political appointee whose function was to secretly hear complaints about corrupt or criminal practices or bullying from gardai who felt unsafe making such complaints to senior officers.

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