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Callinan and watchdog row over informers

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has intervened in a row between the Garda Commissioner and the Garda Ombudsman over confidential informants.

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) accused gardai of delaying a four-year investigation into alleged links between a convicted drug dealer and individual officers.

Commissioner Martin Callinan (right), in response to the GSOC report, said it was of the utmost importance that gardai have a system in place which ensured that the identities of those who provide information to it are protected.



"An Garda Siochana will do everything possible to protect the identities of those who provide it with information in good faith," he said in a statement.

Now Mr Shatter has asked Mr Callinan for his observations on the GSOC findings and, in particular, "on what they have to say about delays".

The GSOC inquiry examined the Garda's relationship with Kieran Boylan, a convicted drug dealer against whom charges were dropped in July 2008.

GSOC sent a file to the DPP, who directed that nobody should face prosecution.

The GSOC probe focussed on whether gardai colluded with Boylan in the movement and supply of drugs.

The drug dealer faced six charges in connection with the seizure of €1.7m worth of cocaine and heroin in Co Louth in October 2005.

The Ombudsman's probe into why the charges were dropped also examined the nature of his relationship with gardai.

It sought to establish whether he was acting as an informant for gardai, registered or not.

The Ombudsman investigated whether any gardai knew he was dealing drugs while acting as an informant; if he supplied drugs to other drug dealers and then gave information about the drugs to gardai and whether a conviction secured on the basis of such information was now unsafe.

In its report, the Ombudsman accused gardai of repeated delay and not supplying all the information within the 30-day agreed time frame.

However, it acknowledged that it got all of the documents it sought but one.

GSOC said it was "disappointed" that the reason for the long delay in completing the report "is due mainly to difficulties experienced by the investigation team in obtaining evidence from the Garda Siochana".

Of 63 requests made, only 17 were processed within the agreed 30-day period.

"The Ombudsman Commission considers this level of co-operation to be highly unsatisfactory," it said.

It had "a significant detrimental impact" on the investigation in terms of timeliness and completeness.

A detailed report had been sent to the Minister for Justice.

Mr Shatter yesterday said it was "clearly a matter of concern" that it took an inordinate amount of time for the probe to be concluded.

mlavery@ herald.ie