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Sunday 26 January 2020

Leading garda to investigate scandals

A top garda was today tasked with investigating letters from junior minister Trevor Sargent to gardai which forced him to quit over allegations he interfered with justice.

Sargent resigned yesterday after admitting writing to a garda asking for a public order prosecution against a constituent to be dropped.

Chief Superintendent John Twomey will also head a separate inquiry into former Defence Minister Willie O`Dea, who claimed a garda wrongly tipped him off that a Sinn Fein councillor had links to a brothel.

The Limerick TD resigned last week after it emerged he denied the slur on a sworn High Court affidavit.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy called in the top officer to examine correspondence from Mr Sargent and to establish how it was leaked.

A second letter has emerged which showed Mr Sargent ask a Superintendent to "keep an eye on the case" after a Balbriggan man Dominic McGowan asked for the TD's help.

Mr Sargent claimed he acted because he was worried about Mr McGowan's safety.

The Chief Superintendent's second investigation was launched after a complaint from a Green Party member over Mr O'Dea's brothel smear.

Gary Fitzgerald contacted gardai in Dublin last Thursday amid suggestions that there may have been a breach of the Official Secrets Act as the false vice allegation against Maurice Quinlivan spread.

Chief Supt Twomey, based at Pearse Street in Dublin will compile a report on the scandals for Commissioner Murphy and Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.

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