Monday 23 September 2019

Senior garda says she bears 'no malice' towards whistleblower

Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn at the Disclosures Tribunal, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn at the Disclosures Tribunal, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Gerard Cunningham

A senior garda who referred a whistleblower to the Garda Ombudsman over a domestic dispute complaint has told the Charleton Tribunal that she has no malice towards the officer.

In October 2013, Marisa Simms, the partner of garda whistleblower Keith Harrison, made a statement to gardaí alleging that Gda Harrison had threatened he would "burn her" and "bury her".

Ms Simms later withdrew the statement but not before it was referred to Gsoc.

Gda Harrison has testified that he believed the referral to Gsoc was motivated by malice towards him.

In the current module, the tribunal is looking at contacts between gardaí and the HSE/Tusla relating to Gda Harrison.

Yesterday counsel for Gda Harrison said senior officers in Donegal were interpreting the 2005 Garda Síochána Act "beyond breaking point" at a Garda conference where it was decided to refer the statement to Gsoc under a section covering incidents involving death or "serious harm".

Mark Harty SC said that Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn regarded a threat of future harm as serious harm. In evidence earlier, Superintendent Eugene McGovern said that psychological harm on receiving a threat was grounds to refer to Gsoc.

Chief Supt McGinn said that the meeting, on October 8, 2013, also discussed the issue of psychological harm to Ms Simms's children.

The statement by Ms Simms was also referred to the HSE.

Chief Supt McGinn said her interpretation may have been wrong, but she added that the referral to Gsoc was made in good faith.

Mr Harty said that if the chief superintendent was acting in good faith she would have made entries in the officer's journal about the decisions made in the case.

The witness said there were no ulterior motives.

Mr Harty said that after the Morris Tribunal, new Garda directives required officers to keep daily journals, and to record the reasons for any arrests, reasons for warrants issued, and "all matters and incidents of importance".

Chief Supt McGinn said it was not possible to write down every decision that is made at the time.

Counsel put it to the witness that she would have done more if she was concerned about the safety of Ms Simms and her children.

"I'm happy that the decisions I made were the right decisions at the time," said Chief Supt McGinn.

Mr Harty said that the chief superintendent "didn't give a fig" about Ms Simms, but only wanted to get Gda Harrison out of her division.

"I'm satisfied the steps I took were appropriate. They were measured," Chief Supt McGinn said.

"I have absolutely no malice to Gda Harrison. He is back working in my division for the past few months and I have shown no malice to him whatsoever."

Irish Independent

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