Saturday 21 September 2019

Gardaí had to be 'transparent' in investigating officer, tribunal told

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Stock picture

Gerard Cunningham

A senior Garda officer told the Charleton Tribunal she wanted officers to be seen to be acting in a "clear and transparent" manner regarding whistleblower Garda Keith Harrison.

A decade ago, Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn worked as an official liaison to the Morris Tribunal, which was looking at allegations against certain gardaí in Donegal. In its current module, the Charleton Tribunal is looking at contacts between gardaí and the HSE and Tusla relating to Garda Harrison.

Reports from the sister and mother of Garda Harrison's partner, Marisa Simms, led to a statement being taken on October 6, 2013, from Ms Simms, alleging domestic abuse.

"I think it's most unusual that a woman would be thrown out of her house in the middle of the night and have to get someone to take her," Chief Supt McGinn said. "It would signal to me that things weren't well in that house."

She said she had never conveyed to Inspector Goretti Sheridan that she had to get a statement and had never said: "No garda in this division is going to treat a woman that way."

On October 8, a Garda conference was held to consider what to do as a result of the Simms statement and a referral was made to Gsoc. Because children were alleged to have witnessed an incident, Tusla was also notified.

The Gsoc was made under Section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act, which must take place when there is an allegation that a garda caused serious harm or death.

The chief superintendent said this might not have been appropriate, but gardaí were obliged to refer Ms Simms's statement to Gsoc either way.

After Gsoc had closed its file on Garda Harrison, the chief superintendent asked Northern Region assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny if he could appoint a superintendent from outside the Donegal division to investigate the allegations.

Chief Supt McGinn said that following the Morris Tribunal, there was a lack of confidence in policing in Donegal and she didn't want the division to investigate one of its own people.

Irish Independent

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