Monday 19 August 2019

Gardaí must hand over all personal emails and notes about McCabe

Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Niall O'Connor

Garda Headquarters has directed officers of all ranks to scrutinise their personal email accounts, handwritten notes and laptops for any material relating to Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

In an unprecedented move, an assistant commissioner has been appointed to oversee the collation of potentially reams of electronic and written data from gardaí that will then be forwarded to the Disclosures Tribunal.

In a memo sent to all Garda divisions, seen by the Irish Independent, Garda management laid down the diktat ahead of the next phase of the tribunal, which is examining an alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

The blanket search even includes emails sent from officers' own personal Gmail accounts.

"Members using Gmail accounts to send and receive work-related emails are also requested to check emails and attachments relevant to the terms of reference and disclose same," the memo from Garda Headquarters stated.

The memo tells all officers they must hand over:

Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
  • Minutes and briefing documents from internal meetings held between July 1, 2012 until May 31, 2014;
  • Any handwritten notes including diary, journal and scrapbook entries;
  • Data on shared drives, official laptops and desktops;
  • Relevant details on Garda diaries.

The news of the major fishing expedition is believed to stem from previous criticism levelled at management by whistleblower Keith Harrison.

During recent hearings before Judge Charleton, lawyers for the Donegal-based garda said they had sought full disclosure of documents, both written and electronic, but that not all of this data was provided.

The tribunal also heard submissions from Mr Harrison's legal team that further searches of documents should be carried out as a matter of necessity after new files were found.

One of the documents discovered, minutes of a monthly Garda regional management meeting on November 5, 2013, included a single line that Chief Superintendent in Donegal Terry McGinn "updated the meeting on the investigation into Garda Harrison".

This stems from a statement given to gardaí in October 2013 by Gda Harrison's partner Marisa Simms.

Failing

It led to a Garda referral to the HSE over child welfare issues. The case was closed in March 2014, with the HSE saying there was no cause for concern.

Gda Harrison is taking separate High Court action against the Garda Commissioner for breaching a court order.

Former commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan was accused of failing to fulfil an order to furnish Gda Harrison with the full Garda file in relation to a personal injury claim.

Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin may be forced to appear in court to defend the claim.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section