Friday 22 November 2019

Tribunal hears claims of garda's 'irrational and vile behaviour'

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Gerard Cunningham

The Charleton Tribunal has heard details of a statement made by the partner of Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison alleging his obsessive and irrational behaviour.

The statement made by Marisa Simms in October 2013 outlined how Gda Harrison would persistently phone and text her, "asking me where I was or who I was with".

The tribunal is looking at interactions between the Garda, Tusla and Gda Harrison.

Ms Simms withdrew the statement three months later, saying she was put under pressure to make it.

Inspector Goretti Sheridan told the tribunal yesterday that Ms Simms came to Letterkenny garda station and made the statement voluntarily.

"The phone calls and texts were still as persistent as ever but I think that as time went on, I became more accepting of it because I was used to it and didn't see it as strange or obsessive," Ms Simms said in the statement, which also said Gda Harrison became "vile and aggressive verbally" when he was drinking.

Insp Sheridan told the tribunal she first became aware of Gda Harrison in May 2013, when he was involved in a road traffic accident.

Later that year, she learned of a report from Paula McDermott that her sister, Ms Simms, had been "verbally threatened" by her partner, Gda Harrison.

Insp Sheridan said that after a discussion with Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn, it was suggested she go to see Ms Simms's mother, Rita McDermott, who had previously spoken about Gda Harrison to Detective Sergeant David Durkin. "We believed children were at risk," Insp Sheridan said.

She said the visit to Rita McDermott was "a cold call".

Rita McDermott made a statement outlining how she had been told of threats allegedly made by Gda Harrison.

The inspector gave Mrs McDermott her number to forward to Ms Simms. She called the inspector the following day and arranged that she would call to Letterkenny garda station on October 6, 2013 where she made her statement. Inspector Sheridan said the words in the statement were "absolutely 100pc" those of Ms Simms.

Irish Independent

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