Sunday 15 July 2018

Policing Authority to deny 'ratting out' whistleblowers

Civilian officers Lois West and Laura Galligan give evidence to the Oireachtas Committee
Civilian officers Lois West and Laura Galligan give evidence to the Oireachtas Committee

Kevin Doyle, Group Political Editor

THE head of the Policing Authority will today deny that somebody in her office “ratted out” two whistleblowers who wanted to raise serious concerns about the handling of a Garda review of homicide figures.

Josephine Feehily will admit to being concerned that two civilian analysts of An Garda Síochána were “belittled” and “shouted down” by senior officers.

But she will insist that her office properly handled their interactions with Lois West (Deputy Head of Garda Siochana Analysis Service) and Laura Galligan (Senior Crime and Policing Analyst).

Earlier this month the Oireachtas Justice Committee heard from the two women that they attempted to contact the Policing Authority on four occasions in relation to an ongoing review of domestic homicide statistics.

Ms West revealed to TDs and senators that she was subsequently told by a senior officer that they had been informed in a phonecall from the Authority about the approaches.

Ms Feehily will today tell the same committee that the Authority has many sources of intelligence and information regarding the review – “perhaps more that Ms. West and Ms. Gavigan realise”.

"The concerns which they brought to the Authority’s attention were already known to us before their contact.

“At a point where the analysts seemed to be having difficulty getting access to certain information, Authority members and staff were being offered opportunities to review investigation files (which we declined) and be briefed in detail on cases,” Ms Feehily will says.

In an opening statement, which has been seen by the Irish Independent, she will add: “In fact having reviewed their evidence to you, I can honestly say that there was very little of substance in it about the review which we didn’t know or have ground to believe since late March /early April of last year.”

Ms West and Ms Gavigan previously revealed how senior gardaí attempted to get them to sign-off on a report that they believed to be inaccurate.

And their own analysis of the problems with recording of data on the Garda PULSE system was written off as “inherently weak”.

Following a significant delay, the review is now going ahead using the methodology designed by Ms Gavigan.

Ms Feehily will today say the evidence given to the committee by the women about their treatment in Garda Headquarters “sounded deplorable and is very concerning”.

“It speaks to issues of culture and speaking out, matters which the Authority raises continuously,” she will say.

With regard to the homicide review, Ms Feehily will say that “in many ways this has been the most frustrating and most troubling piece of work in which the Authority has engaged”.

“We began to examine the matter in March of last year. We are still not finished and we are still not fully satisfied,” she will say.

The Authority has reached a position in recent weeks where it accepts that a police investigation did take place in each of the 41 cases which are the subject of this review.

“It is important that I say this for the information of the community. However, we have not yet been reassured about the quality of those investigations,” Ms Feehily will say.

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