Garda Keith Harrison
You may recall a post from January 25 last, concerning Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison.
It included excerpts from a letter sent by Mr Harrison’s solicitors to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on May 20, 2016, outlining how he had been subjected to harassment and continued attempts to smear his reputation and undermine his credibility.
It was one of 14 such letters sent to Ms O’Sullivan by Garda Harrison’s solicitors.
Readers may also recall how, last October, Mr Harrison’s solicitor Trevor Collins called the review of Sgt Maurice McCabe and Supt Dave Taylor’s allegations – by former High Court judge Justice Iarlaith O’Neill – as “flawed from the very outset” because it didn’t include the complaints of other Garda whistleblowers such as Garda Harrison.
Further to this…
Garda Harrison has released the following statement, on behalf of himself and his partner Marisa Simms.
I am what is commonly known as a Garda whistleblower since May 2014.
Despite our nervousness and worry about doing so and the effect this will have on us and our family into the future, we are forced to make a public statement to bring to the national attention our concerns and suffering, because of a complete failure of a system that should support us and address our very serious issues.
Having read the heartfelt statement of the McCabe family, we share their heartache. We have similarly suffered at the hands of An Garda Siochana, have been reported to TUSLA and have been ignored when we raised the issues with Government. We hope the McCabe family will get the truth and justice they deserve. We too feel that we deserve truth and justice in our case.
We have been writing to the Tánaiste, in her capacity as Minister for Justice, continuously since June 2014 to bring our concerns to her attention, but we never received a response that gave us any hope.
We believed our experience should have been considered by Mr Justice O’Neill in his scoping review. Mr Justice O’Neil came to the conclusion that the circumstances of the treatment of Sergeant McCabe were entirely unique, however we do not know what information, if any Mr Justice O’Neill had regarding our treatment.
We will no longer allow ourselves be ignored as we have endured similar treatment to that suffered by the McCabes, at the hands of An Garda Siochana and TUSLA. This fact has been known to the Tanaiste and the Commissioner of An Garda Siochana for some time and was recently made known to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.
It is clear to us the incidents contained in the disclosures of Superintendent Taylor and Sergeant McCAbe are not isolated but rather, along with our experience, identifies a common approach within the senior management of An Garda Siochana to whistleblowers. This treatment of our family includes:
- Unwarranted and prolonged overt and covert surveillance
2. Victimisation and bullying
3. Intimidation and harassment levelled at family and I
4. Unjustified referrals of our family to TUSLA by An Garda Siochana
5. Dissemination of rumour, innuendo and malicious falsehoods to certain members of the media, politicians and my Garda colleagues
6. Deliberate frustration of GSOC’s investigation of my disclosures
7. Disciplinary action and threat of criminal action against me.
The similarities between the experiences we have endured and the McCabes cannot be ignored by this Government or the political establishment. It seems the Department of Justice and Garda management are making every effort to ensure multiple whistleblowers are not considered by any inquiry/commission of investigation because they were, the pattern of behaviour by senior management within An Garda Siochana would become public for all to see.
The Tanaiste repeatedly refused our request to meet and, as a result, our experiences were ignored by her in framing the terms of reference of the O’Neill scoping review and the subsequent Charleton Inquiry.
The Taoiseach and Tanaiste have spoken of due process and the establishment of the truth for all concerned with this sentiment has not been extended to us. It is our belief senior management within An Garda SIochana set out to attack and destroy our family because I sought to speak out about malpractice within the force.
In doing so, they tried to discredit me, and also reported “concerns” regarding the wellbeing of my partner’s children, leading to a TULSA investigation, which investigation revealed no risk whatsoever.
Contrary to public statements by the Tanaiste and in particular the commissioner of An Garda Siochana, my family and I, as a whistleblower, have not received support and encouragement but in fact quite the opposite. We have lost complete confidence in the ability of both to address our concerns and bring our living hell to an end.
I was attested as a fully fledged member of An Garda Siochana in June 2011 and was optimistic that I was joining a voice where I could serve the community wearing a uniform that enjoyed the confidence and respect of the community I served. I was nominated for a Scott Medal for bravery in 2005 and attended a bravery awards ceremony in Aras an Uachtarain in 2007. I was ambitious for my career as a member of An Garda Siochana but given what has happened to me, these ambitions have long passed.
I continue to have respect and admiration for so many of my colleagues, the rank and file members of An Garda Siochana who are some of the best people I have ever met and who work in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. However, I have no confidence in senior management of An Garda Siochana because of their treatment of whistleblowers.
I am coming forward publicly in order to ensure that the saga of a culture of management failure within An Garda Siochana with regards to their attitude to whistleblowers comes to an end. I did not become a whistleblower lightly, given the devastating effect it has had on our family.
Whistleblowers are a fundamental part of any organisation and should be encouraged and supported to do the right thing without fear or favour, otherwise they will not come forward into the future.
The efforts of this Government to restrict the inquiry/commission of investigation to the very traumatic story of Sergeant McCabe absolutely ensures we will not get to the bottom of the culture of management failures and ill treatment of whistleblowers within An Garda Siochana. I will not be doing myself or Marisa or our family justice if I were to let that happen, without speaking out.
The treatment of Sergeant McCabe and myself bear similarities. By restricting the inquiry to only one story, a situation will be allowed to develop whereby the treatment of Sergeant McCabe will be found to have been a one-off when, in fact, our story and its striking similarities to that of the McCabes, show that this formed part of an orchestrated system and culture within senior management of An Garda Siochana. Unless and until this approach to whistleblowers itself is exposed, An Garda Siochana will forever be tainted.
I demand that my case be included in any inquiry/commission of investigation by the Government and political establishment. We will not rest until this happens.
Previously: Why Are Nine Garda Whistleblowers Out Sick?
Pic: Irish Mirror