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Minister orders review of gardaí disclosures on force corruption

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Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Damien Eagers

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Damien Eagers

Damien Eagers / INM

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Damien Eagers

A major review of protected disclosures made by serving and former gardaí has been ordered by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

The Irish Independent understands around 17 disclosures have been referred to a panel of barristers for independent assessment and advice on how they should be dealt with.

The disclosures are among 24 from current and former gardaí received by Mr Flanagan and his predecessors Frances Fitzgerald and Alan Shatter since 2014.

Those being assessed are understood to include disclosures made by Nicky Keogh and Keith Harrison, two gardaí previously stationed in Athlone.

Both made allegations of Garda corruption in the midlands and of suffering reprisals after raising concerns.

Their allegations are to be assessed by the panel even though they are expected to be probed later this year by the Disclosures Tribunal.

In a statement confirming the exercise, the Department of Justice said it had been ordered "to ensure consistency and independence in the assessment of the content of protected disclosures".

It said the decision was taken following consultation with the Attorney General and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

"The minister is anxious to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in carrying out the assessment and following through on any recommended actions," the statement said.

No timeframe has been specified for the completion of the assessments.

A source familiar with the matter said the assessments would not amount to an investigation of the claims, but would result in advice being given to the minister on what course of action to take.

Depending on the case, the options could range from taking no further action to seeking a report from the Garda Commissioner, referring the disclosure to the Garda Ombudsman, or establishing a commission or a tribunal.

Allegations made by Gda Keogh and Gda Harrison came into the public domain in 2014 when they were aired by a number of TDs in the Dáil.

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly said Gda Keogh had made "factual, detailed and indisputable allegations of Garda involvement in serious criminal activity involving the heroin trade and entrapment, setting people up in terms of drug dealing".

Alleged

She alleged he had been subjected to harassment by senior gardaí who had unsuccessfully sought to manufacture complaints against him.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty told the Dáil Gda Harrison had suspicions about a garda who may have been allowing the sale and supply of drugs within the Athlone district.

The TD said Gda Harrison claimed that when he raised concerns with superiors, they fell on deaf ears.

Garda Harrison also alleges there was a campaign of intimidation against him after he arrested a garda colleague for drink driving.

Last year the Disclosures Tribunal dismissed allegations made by Gda Harrison and his partner that gardaí coerced her to make a false complaint against him, and directed Tusla to visit their family home.

Irish Independent