Thursday 24 May 2018

'I don't want to be here,' Marisa Simms says as evidence of first marriage, ectopic pregnancy, and infidelities heard

Simms says she agreed to Charleton appearance 'because we want peace'

Harrison and Marisa Simms arriving at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Harrison and Marisa Simms arriving at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

'Do you want to be involved in this Tribunal?" Marisa Simms was asked. Or with GSOC, or with the High Court proceedings? "Absolutely not," Ms Simms replied, with an emphasis that was almost ferocious. "I want peace."

She had known a long time ago that "very unpleasant, private matters" would be brought up during these proceedings, it was put to her. These matters would include her first marriage, "her little baby," lost in an ectopic pregnancy, and infidelities.

Yes, Ms Simms indicated that she had known all this.

So why had she come?

"Because we want peace, we want to be left alone," she told the Disclosures Tribunal in a low, cracked voice.

"Because my children have Pulse IDs and they don't deserve to have a Pulse ID," she said, referring to the Garda system for recording people the force comes into contact with.

She expressed a worry she would be thought of as a bad mother.

Tribunal Chairman Peter Charleton leaned towards her in his seat and took off his glasses as he addressed her directly. "Nobody has ever said you're a bad mother, you appreciate that?" he told her.

"With one exception," he added most pointedly.

Ms Simms' partner, Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison, outlined the couple's troubled relationship which led to her making a statement of complaint against him in October 2013.

It was notable he wore his official Garda uniform for his appearance at the Tribunal.

In the current module, the inquiry is looking at contacts between gardaí and the HSE/Tusla in relation to Garda Harrison, which he alleges amount to an abuse of power.

The statement, which was made by Ms Simms, was referred to GSOC and Tusla, and was later withdrawn by Ms Simms.

Tribunal barrister Pat Marrinan SC went through several text-message exchanges at the end of September 2013 between Ms Simms and Garda Harrison.

During this time, Ms Simms had moved in with her sister following an argument with Garda Harrison.

Garda Harrison said Ms Simms had left the house voluntarily after the argument.

"I have never put, or directed, or told Marisa to leave the home," he said.

In the text-message exchange, Garda Harrison asked Marisa what was wrong and asked her to come back to him. In her responses, she referred several times to how he had "threatened to burn" her.

"In relation to the threats to burn, they did not happen," Garda Harrison said, later saying the texts had been sent to hurt him but weren't true as he hadn't threatened her.

Garda Harrison agreed he had earlier cheated on Marisa, on one occasion while she was in hospital when she lost a baby in an ectopic pregnancy.

"I didn't behave appropriately, Mr Chairman," Garda Harrison said.

"This was actions I'm not proud of, and I wish I hadn't done, but I did them," he added.

"It was never intended as emotional abuse, but I didn't think," he said.

Garda Harrison said during this time, he was not the person he had been previously, and the person he is now. He said he was deeply ashamed of how he had hurt Ms Simms.

"I knew myself that I was out of order, I knew that I needed to do something. There was behaviours that I needed to address," he said.

Garda Harrison said he had asked for the tribunal, although he knew that private and embarrassing details of his life would be made public.

He said after Ms Simms made a statement to gardaí on October 6, 2013, he "wasn't worried about the content of that statement because I knew that I had done nothing wrong".

In a statement made at the time, Sergeant Paul Wallace recorded that he was told by Garda Harrison on October 7, 2013, that Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn had come into the room while Ms Simms was making her statement in Letterkenny garda station and said "no guard's to treat women like that. I'll see to that."

But earlier, Ms Simms told the tribunal she had not seen Chief Superintendent McGinn at the station.

Garda Harrison said he had no recollection of a meeting on April 24, 2012, over his use of the Garda Pulse system but said he had a meeting with retired Chief Superintendent Jim Sheridan about his car insurance.

The tribunal chairman asked why the chief superintendent wouldn't talk to him about Pulse, when he knew Garda Harrison was using the system to check on his girlfriend.

"I wasn't checking on her. I was checking on who else was checking on her," Garda Harrison said.

Additional reporting by Gerard Cunningham

Irish Independent

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