Thursday 22 February 2018

Respect whistleblowers, Tánaiste urges

Profile claim: Keith Harrison. Photo: North West Newspix
Profile claim: Keith Harrison. Photo: North West Newspix
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The only way for State bodies to treat whistleblowers is with respect, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has said.

Responding to reports that a 'profile report' was prepared on Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison, the Justice Minister said the highest standards must be followed by An Garda Síochána.

Ms Fitzgerald said she could not comment directly on the Mr Harrison case as she had only "partial information" but added: "There's only one way to treat whistleblowers and that's to treat them with respect. There's no question of that."

Mr Harrison has claimed a profile was compiled on him soon after he complained about misconduct in the force. The development is "unheard of" in relation to a serving officer as such reports are usually used for investigating serious criminals.

Mr Harrison's solicitor Trevor Collins said profiles were normally compiled when gardaí wanted to investigate "every aspect" of a suspects life, including their family, associates, movements, accounts and social welfare interactions.

Ms Fitzgerald said the Government had brought in legislation to protect whistleblowers.

"The Charleton Tribunal is tasked with examining how specific whistleblowers are dealt with. It's sitting as we speak. No doubt conclusions will be drawn," she said.

"I have one approach to whistleblowers and that is that they are treated with respect. I will take everything and do everything in my power to ensure that An Garda Síochána or any other body under my competence will deal with whistleblowers properly."

Mr Collins has written to the tribunal on behalf of his client to alert Mr Justice Peter Charleton to the profile.

He also intends to make an application to the High Court to seek the release of the full profile report in an effort to find out who ordered its creation.

Mr Harrison has been on sick leave since 2014 and without pay since 2015.

The Donegal-based garda and his partner claim to have been the victims of a five-year intimidation campaign after arresting a fellow officer for drink-driving in Athlone in 2009.

Irish Independent

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