Wednesday 21 February 2018

Second civilian sparks new crisis for embattled Noirin O'Sullivan

Head of data analysis queries Policing Authority evidence

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: Gerry Mooney
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan is facing into a fresh crisis as another civilian staff member has raised serious concerns about public testimony given to the Policing Authority by a senior garda, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The new row facing the embattled Commissioner is centred on evidence given to the Policing Authority during a hearing focused on a review of homicide cases by Garda management.

It follows another week of crisis for Ms O'Sullivan which saw her contradicted by her own HR chief John Barrett at the Dail's Public Accounts Committee over a meeting they held to discuss the serious mismanagement of accounts operated by the Garda College, in Templemore.

Last October, the Sunday Independent first revealed details of the damaging audit of the Garda College which has led to calls for the Commissioner to step aside.

And now it can be revealed another senior civilian figure in Garda headquarters has written to Ms O'Sullivan to complain about public comments by a senior garda.

Last week, the head of Garda data analysis Gurchand Singh wrote directly to Ms O'Sullivan to complain about a suggestion that his team signed off on a review of 41 homicide cases, which was carried out in the wake of the fake breath test scandal.

Read More: Templemore finances may be tip of the iceberg for Commissioner

The issue was discussed at length a Policing Authority hearing two weeks ago, while Mr Singh was in attendance.

Assistant Commissioner Eugene Corcoran told the authority there was a "united" approach to the review of the cases by gardai and members of data analysis division.

However, Mr Singh told Ms O'Sullivan he did not agree with this assertion because his team had not seen the final report before it was presented to the Policing Authority. "Gurchand has raised concerns following the Policing Authority meeting over the fact he did not have final sight on the report on homicide cases before it went to the Authority," a Garda source said.

"The way Assistant Commissioner Eugene Corcoran presented it was that the analysis people had agreed with the report.

"Gurchand was of the view that, while the analysis section which he is over had an input into the report, they had not seen the final report," the source added.

Mr Singh told the Policing Authority his team carried out an initial review of a selection of homicide cases by comparing Garda Pulse records with files from the chief State pathologist's office.

He said "two or three" murder cases were marked as non-fatal assaults causing harm on Garda records. He raised this with Garda management and it was agreed a more detailed review would be carried out using the individual case notes for each incident.

"One of the things we didn't have was the case notes. We had pulse records, the pathologist reports but when analysis was completed... I took it to the executive to say there are some issues here but I don't see the investigation in order to have a fuller view," Mr Singh said.

A team was set up by Assistant Commissioner Corcoran, comprising of gardai and members of the data analysis section.

Policing Authority chair Josephine Feehily asked Mr Singh at the meeting if he had seen the case notes and he said he had not.

Ms O'Sullivan then intervened to say Mr Corcoran was tasked with carrying out the follow-on review which comprised of Garda and civilian data experts in order to "get a complete picture".

She said this included access to case notes and investigation files.

Mr Corcoran said any concerns "no matter how minute" were examined due to the serious nature of the crime. He said all matters in the 41 cases were "fully explained" by the review. The homicide cases spanned from between 2013 to 2015. Mr Corcoran said the review made recommendations of changes to the Garda Pulse system.

Sunday Independent

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