Tag Archives: Disclosures Tribunal

Sgt Maurice McCabe outside the Disclosures Tribunal this summer

This morning.

Further to questions being asked about what former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and the Department of Justice knew of the legal strategy used by the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and several gardai in the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015 – in which allegations made by Ms O’Sullivan’s legal counsel were dropped after Sgt McCabe proved them to be false…

And reports of a phone call from Ms O’Sullivan to the then acting Secretary General at the Department of Justice Noel Waters on May 15, 2015 – the same date Sgt McCabe first gave evidence at the O’Higgins Commission which delivered the first blow to Ms O’Sullivan’s legal strategy…

And how within hours of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying on Tuesday, during Leaders’ Questions, that he could not be sure if there was such a call or not, Mr Waters announced he’ll be stepping down in February as he is approaching 40 years of service…

And Mr Varadkar saying yesterday that “it’s very hard to answer questions for third parties, or unnamed third parties” but admitted he hasn’t spoken with Mr Waters directly…

Niall O’Connor, on Independent.ie, reports:

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.

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

…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.

Gardaí must hand over all personal emails and notes about McCabe (Independent.ie)

Previously: The Legal Strategy Against Maurice McCabe

Meet The Acting Commissioner

Rollingnews


Clockwise from top left: Sgt Maurice McCabe, former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, former Assistant Garda Commissioner Kieran Kenny; former Chief Superintendent Jim Sheridan and Superintendent Noel Cunningham, who is also president of the Association of Garda Superintendents

Yesterday.

John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, wrote that the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald received a protected disclosure in the summer.

In it, it was claimed that the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan “was informed in May 2014 about a referral from Tusla, the child and family agency, which alleged garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe had been accused of raping a child”.

It’s not known if, on receipt of this information, Ms O’Sullivan notified Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald about the allegation.

Mr Mooney reported that the protected disclosure has been referred to the Disclosures Tribunal where Judge Peter Charleton is examining claims that the circulation of this false rape allegation was part of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

The Sunday Times‘ article didn’t report what specific day in May 2014 Ms O’Sullivan was supposedly informed.

Nor did it make clear whether the protected disclosure stated that Ms O’Sullivan was told the false rape allegation was a bona fide referral, or if she was told that a false rape referral had been made against Sgt McCabe and that there had been a catastrophic mistake.

This would appear to be crucial as May 2014 was both the month Tusla presented the false referral to the gardai as a bona fide referral and the month Tusla later informed senior gardai that the referral was botched.

In addition.

The Disclosures Tribunal has already been told by retired senior gardai that the fake rape referral travelled up the chain of command in An Garda Siochana and reached the Garda Commissioner’s office in May 2014 and that an update to inform Ms O’Sullivan that it was false was never passed on to Ms O’Sullivan.

Readers will recall…

A complaint by a Ms D was made in December 2006 some 11 months after her father, a guard, Mr D “lost his position and was reverted to other duties” after Sgt McCabe “caused the institution of serious disciplinary procedure against” Mr D in January 2006.

After the DPP investigated Ms D’s complaint, a letter from the DPP’s office was sent to the State solicitor for Cavan Rory Hayden on April 5, 2007, which stated: “Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”

The investigation into the complaint was carried out by Inspector Noel Cunningham – now a Superintendent who is also president of the Association of Garda Superintendents.

The tribunal has heard how Mr Cunningham never gave or informed Sgt McCabe of the DDP’s full instructions but, unbeknownst to Mr Cunningham, Sgt McCabe had been fully briefed of them by Mr Hayden on April 5, 2007.

Readers will recall how Ms D’s 2006 allegation resurfaced during a counselling session, seven years later in the summer 2013, in Cavan, with RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy.

An erroneous allegation of rape against Sgt McCabe ended up being attributed to Ms D when Ms Brophy sent a botched referral to Tusla in August 2013.

Then, readers will recall, on April 30, 2014, Tusla social worker Laura Connolly plucked Sgt McCabe’s file randomly from a cabinet which contained unallocated cases and sent a notification of Sgt McCabe’s file to the gardai even though she was aware the 2006 allegation had already been sent to the gardai and that the DPP had ordered for no charges to be brought.

Ms Connolly made a monumental error by combining both the 2006 allegation, which was found to have no foundation by the DPP, and the 2013 allegation of rape pertaining to a Ms Y which had nothing to do with Ms D but was wrongly recorded by counsellor Laura Brophy as an allegation Ms D had made against Sgt McCabe.

Readers will recall on May 6, 2014, Sean Guerin SC, after examining allegations of Garda misconduct made by Sgt McCabe, Mr Guerin recommended a Commission of Investigation be held into the complaints.

(This would eventually lead to the setting up of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015, during which An Garda Siochana said it would argue that Sgt McCabe acted out of malice and that evidence of this would be based on a meeting Sgt McCabe had with two gardai, Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin, in Mullingar in August 2008.

It was also claimed at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation that the reason Sgt McCabe was acting in such a way was because he wanted the 2007 DPP’s directions overturned.

An Garda Siochana dropped both claims when Sgt McCabe produced a recording of the meeting in Mullingar and told the commission he had been fully briefed of the DPP’s directions and was very satisfied with them and, therefore, had no reason to want them overturned.)

The tribunal has heard that on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 – the same day then Justice Minister Alan Shatter resigned – Supt Leo McGinn, the district officer in Bailieboro, on receipt of Ms Connolly’s referral, forwarded Ms Connolly’s botched referral to the then Chief Superintendent Jim Sheridan, stating that he recommended the 2006/2007 investigation be reviewed.

Then, on May 14, 2014, the then Chief Superintendent Sheridan sent a letter to the then Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny.

This was the same day Ms D informed RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy that her referral to the gardai was incorrect.

In addition, Mr Sheridan told the tribunal that Supt McGinn told him the referral was incorrect on May 13, 2014.

And yet.

When Chief Supt Sheridan sent this letter to Mr Kenny on May 14, 2014, Mr Sheridan attached the referral with the unrelated digital penetration error and said the “the allegations contained in the attached referral have been the subject of a previous Garda investigation” which resulted in the DPP directing that there be no prosecution against Sgt Maurice McCabe.

He also stated that it was his understanding that Ms D had made complaints, based on the allegations set out in the attached referral, to Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and GSOC.

Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, asked Mr Sheridan why he didn’t tell Asst Comm Kenny that the allegation in the referral was incorrect.

Mr Sheridan said he perhaps should have but he was trying to establish how the error had occurred.

“Perhaps in hinsight, I should have,” Mr Sheridan said.

Asked, in regards to the mention of complaints to Mr Martin and GSOC, was he of the understanding that Ms D had made complaints based on the digital penetration allegation, Mr Sheridan said no, he didn’t think that.

Once again, Ms Leader asked Mr Sheridan why he didn’t state that in the letter?

Mr Sheridan accepted that, in hindsight, he should have and said that there was no malice in his actions.

Ms Leader also asked Mr Sheridan about his knowledge of the complaints to Mr Martin and GSOC.

Mr Sheridan said he knew of the complaints based on media reports and he doesn’t recollect any official notification from GSOC.

In addition.

The tribunal has heard that, similar to Mr Sheridan, Mr Kenny knew the 2006/2007 investigation had nothing to do with any rape allegation.

And yet.

When former Mr Kenny gave evidence to the tribunal he told how, on May 16, 2014, he sent a letter to the Commissioner’s office [Noirin O’Sullivan], with the wrong referral attached.

The letter included the line:

“You will note that the allegation identifies the alleged perpetrator as Maurice McCabe.”

Mr Kenny was asked, while passing the matter on to Ms O’Sullivan, if he advised her that the allegation he was sending was different to the allegation of 2006.

He said: No.

The tribunal has previously heard that Mr Sheridan received an amended referral from Tusla on May 20 and that Mr Sheridan then passed this on to Mr Kenny.

But Mr Kenny said he never passed this on to the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

The tribunal has also heard evidence from Ms O’Sullivan’s private secretary Frank Walsh who said that, despite a later letter sent by Mr Kenny to the Commissioner’s office on July 28, 2014, stating  that “developments will be reported” in regards to the matter – no such developments were reported.

In addition, Det Sgt Walsh told the tribunal that the false allegation against Sgt McCabe was still on file in the Commissioner’s office until the tribunal began earlier this year.

O’Sullivan ‘told of McCabe file’ (John Mooney, The Sunday Times)

UPDATE:

In his article, Mr Mooney also reports: “The tribunal is trying to establish whether the Department of Justice was told about the file, or whether garda management decided to withhold the information pending further inquiries.”

Readers may also wish to note that on February 12, 2017, following a report about the false rape allegation on RTE’s Prime Time on February 9…

Frances Fitzgerald told RTÉ’s The Week In Politics:

I had no knowledge of all of the things that have emerged on Prime Time in relation to referrals to Tusla and how inadequately they were dealt with; the problems with the counsellor, those issues were absolutely … I was stunned watching those on Thursday night as the public were and as concerned and that’s the truth.”

“…I had no reason to put Tusla in the terms of reference because, as I said to you, I had no knowledge of the facts that emerged on the Prime Time programme on Thursday evening. That’s the reality of the situation. I did not know those details.”

However, later, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin told RTE :

Mrs Frances Fitzgerald is saying she wasn’t aware of the Tusla file until Thursday. I think she needs to clarify that. I need to put on record that our spokesperson for justice, deputy Jim O’Callaghan, met with Frances Fitzgerald on Wednesday evening, specifically to broaden the terms of reference of the Charleton inquiry, to take on board the Tusla file because we had been alerted to it and I had spoken to Maurice McCabe on the Wednesday.

“I was anxious the terms of reference would include the Tusla file. Jim O’Callaghan met Frances Fitzgerald, alerted her to the existence of the file and that it needed to be covered.”

Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton

Yesterday.

At the Disclosures Tribunal.

It heard how significant documents that should have been in a social work file concerning Sgt Maurice McCabe – when it was given to a specific social work review team – were not in the file.

This team was given the file to review as it was tasked with assisting Tusla’s legal team in responding to Sgt McCabe’s solicitor, after he became aware of the false rape allegation levelled against him.

And yet.

The significant documents were in the file when it was given to the tribunal’s investigators.

At the tribunal yesterday, Tusla social worker Lisa O’Loghlen, who was unable to give evidence in respect of Sgt Maurice McCabe earlier this year, gave evidence.

Readers will recall how, in the summer of 2016, the Sexual Assault Response Team was set up in response to the number of retrospective allegations which were unallocated and on waiting lists, awaiting an allocated social worker.

Readers will recall Sgt McCabe’s flawed case was such a case.

The tribunal has already heard how a complaint by a Ms D in December 2006 came 11 months after her father, a guard, Mr D “lost his position and was reverted to other duties” after Sgt McCabe “caused the institution of serious disciplinary procedure against” Mr D in January 2006.

After the DPP investigated Ms D’s complaint, a letter from the DPP’s office was sent to the State solicitor for Cavan Rory Hayden on April 5, 2007, which stated: “Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”

Readers will recall how Ms D’s 2006 allegation resurfaced during a counselling session seven years later in the summer 2013, in Cavan, with RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy.

An erroneous allegation of rape against Sgt McCabe ended up being attributed to Ms D when Ms Brophy sent a botched referral to Tusla in August 2013.

Then, readers will recall, on April 30, 2014, Laura Connolly plucked Sgt McCabe’s file randomly from a cabinet which contained unallocated cases and sent a notification of Sgt McCabe’s file to the gardai even though she was aware the 2006 allegation had already been sent to the gardai and DPP had ordered for no charges to be brought.

Ms Connolly made a monumental error by combining both the 2006 allegation, which was found to have no foundation by the DPP, and the 2013 allegation of rape pertaining to a Ms Y which had nothing to do with Ms D but was wrongly recorded by counsellor Laura Brophy as an allegation Ms D was making against Sgt McCabe.

The tribunal has already heard that social worker Clair Tobin was allocated Sgt McCabe’s case in August 2016 – some eight months after Kay McLoughlin, of Tusla, sent Sgt McCabe a Barr letter (a letter which notifies an alleged abuser of the allegation made against them) in December 2015 which stated Tusla was investigating Sgt McCabe in relation to the false allegation of rape.

This Barr letter was sent after Ms McLoughlin’s superior Gerry Lowry – who knew this allegation was incorrect – failed to open an email attachment which contained Ms Loughlin’s draft letter containing the false allegation in May 2015.

Readers will recall that Sean Costello, SC, for Sgt McCabe, wrote back to Ms McLoughlin to say the allegation was wholly untrue in January 2016 but Tusla did not respond to Mr Costello until June 20, 2016.

In July of this year, Ms Tobin told the tribunal that, on June 27, 2016 – seven days after Tusla finally responded to Mr Costello – she and her co-worker, Lisa O’Loghlen, met with Michael Cunningham, who was the then duty social work team leader in Cavan, and he gave them a number of files and a synopsis of the files.

Ms Tobin told the tribunal that the file did not contained the Garda notification which was made in respect of Sgt McCabe by Laura Connolly in 2014.

Readers will recall Ms Tobin told the tribunal she didn’t know of the Garda notification until RTE’s Prime Time aired the matter in February 9, 2017.

In addition, Ms Tobin said the files she was given didn’t make clear that the DPP had instructed no prosecution on the basis that no criminal offence had taken place.

After Ms Tobin’s evidence about the file’s missing documents, Kay McLoughlin, who had “custody” of the file before it was sent to SART, made an additional statement to the tribunal, stating:

“I wish to state under oath, I did not remove any document from the file. I did not try to sanitise the file. I did not try to pretend things weren’t as bad as they were. I did not cover up anything in relation to the Maurice McCabe file. I have no knowledge of anyone else removing documents from this file and returning them at a later date.”

Further to this…

Yesterday.

Ms O’Loghlen confirmed that there was no Garda notification on the file that she and Ms Tobin reviewed for SART.

Because of this, her review of the file does not mention the 2014 referrall at all.

Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal had the following exchange with Ms O’Loghlen:

Marrinan: “Do you believe that there had been an interference with the file and that these documents had been revolved so that you wouldn’t have sight of them?”

O’Loghlen: “I don’t see why it would have made — I think it’s more that they weren’t put on the file in the first place. That would be my — but I can’t say for sure.”

Marrinan: “Well, these are the only documents that appear to have been removed from the file, you understand?”

O’Loghlen: “Okay.”

Marrinan: “So it would appear to have been something that was done deliberately, because they’re all focused on the Garda referral?”

O’Loghlen: “Okay.”

Later, Judge Peter Charleton, the tribunal’s chairman, had the following exchange with Ms O’Loghlen:

Charleton: “…every bit on the file that you’re reviewing when it comes to the SART team historical child allegations, every bit that records the error going to the Gardaí; in other words the digital anal and vaginal penetration is somehow removed.

O’Loghlen: “Okay.”

Charleton:Then it comes back sealed, the Tribunal gets it and lo and behold the documents you haven’t seen, which are the worst red flag of all the red flags you could come across…”

O’Loghlen: “Yes.”

Charleton: “…are back on the file.”

O’Loghlen: “Okay.”

Charleton: “So, what conclusion is one to reach? I mean it is a very, very stark set of facts confronting you. I suppose you don’t have to take the fence if you don’t want to take the fence, but I may have to take the fence and that’s why Mr. Marrinan asked you the question. I mean, it’s really… weird, is not the word.”

O’Loghlen: “Yeah. No, I can see how it looks that way and it was very poorly managed in my opinion, from the start in 2006 right through.”

Charleton: “I know, but, you know, there’s the chaos theory and there’s a conspiracy theory.

O’Loghlen: “Yes.”

Charleton: “Let’s say there’s a chaos theory, there’s a conspiracy theory and there’s the cover-up theory.”

O’Loghlen: “Okay.”

Charleton: “The cover-up theory, you know, it has to be supported by something before you reach that conclusion. But in the event that the worst thing that happened is not on the file when you’re reviewing it in your professional capacity.”

O’Loghlen: “Yes.”

Charleton: “And reviewing it competently, I think everybody accepts, that suddenly when the file is sealed, it reappears on the file.”

O’Loghlen: “Yeah.”

Charleton: “It’s kind of hard to reach the conclusion isn’t it…”

O’Loghlen: “Yes, yes, I accept that.”

Charleton: “..that somehow these documents were lost, all about the same thing, and suddenly come back in the right order in the file. That’s the problem. I don’t know whether you would like to comment on that. That was the whole purpose of Mr. Marrinan’s questions.”

O’Loghlen: “Yes.”

Charleton: “Would you like to?”

O’Loghlen: “I can absolutely see how it looks that that is the way that it happened, yes. I just can’t point a finger at any individuals in particular.”

Charleton: “So, I mean, so your view is it looks like a cover-up but you can’t say who was doing the cover-up.”

O’Loghlen: “Yeah, because if they’d been on the file I absolutely would have reported on them, and that’s why I’m so sure that they weren’t on the file.”

Charleton: “And do you think it was a cover-up?”

O’Loghlen: “I don’t think that there is a — between Tusla and the guards no. I do think it was poor management and incompetence.”

Charleton: “Well, I mean, if anybody makes a mistake, I mean it’s hard to own up to it, but sometimes one also can cover oneself in paper or remove the paper…”

O’Loghlen: “Yes.”

Charleton: “…that shows the mistake.”

O’Loghlen: “Yes.”

Charleton: “In administration we all realise that that kind of thing happens. Does it look as if this has happened here? Without having to point the finger at anybody, does it look as if that’s what happened.”

O’Loghlen: “That there was a cover-up?”

Charleton: “Yes.”

O’Loghlen:It looks that way to me, yes.”

Charleton: “But you can’t say who may have…”

O’Loghlen: “I can’t say, yeah. I can’t.”

Charleton: “Fair enough.”

Under cross examination from Paul McGarry SC, for Sgt McCabe, Ms O’Loghlen said that had she learned of the file’s missing documents before she drew up her report on the file, she might have inquired why they weren’t on the file and asked who had been responsible for the missing documents at the time.

She said team leaders and principals normally hold Garda notifications, not social workers.

The public sittings of the tribunal are not expected to resume until mid/late November.

Previously: ‘I Don’t Know If It Was Through Intention. I Can’t Explain It’

Clockwise from top left: Supt Eugene McGovern; Garda Keith Harrison, Marissa Simms; Chief Supt Terry McGinn; Judge Peter Charleton

This morning.

At Dublin Castle.

After a week’s break, the Disclosures Tribunal, in respect of Garda Keith Harrison, will resume as four witnesses are recalled to give further evidence in light of new documentation which came to light in recent weeks.

The witnesses being recalled today are Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn; Gerry Hone, of Tusla; retired Chief Superintendent James Sheridan and Superintendent Eugene McGovern.

Readers will recall Garda Harrison claims his working life has been difficult since he raised concerns about a garda being involved in the distribution of drugs in Athlone in 2008, and subsequently arrested the same garda for drink-driving in 2009.

It is his contention that the gardai manipulated domestic incidents involving him and his partner Marissa Simms and this resulted in a referral being made to Tusla in February 2014.

This has been rejected by both An Garda Siochana and Tusla.

The decision to make a referral in respect of Garda Harrison to Tusla was made during a meeting on October 8, 2013 about a statement made by Ms Simms on October 6, 2013, following a row between her and Garda Harrison on September 28, 2013.

The tribunal has already heard that, after the meeting on October 8, 2013, Chief Supt Terry McGinn phoned the then Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny to keep him informed of events.

The four witnesses have been recalled today following the late emergence of documents which refer to minutes of separate meetings involving senior gardai.

The first is dated November 5, 2013, and refers to a regional divisional meeting held in Dundalk chaired by the then Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny.

Chief Supt McGinn and retired Chief Supt Sheridan were at this meeting.

In one line of the minutes, it states that Chief Superintendent McGinn updated the meeting on “the investigation concerning Garda Keith Harrison”.

The tribunal heard that the minutes don’t explicitly refer to any HSE referral.

The second document includes another minute relating to a divisional accountability meeting at Letterkenny Garda Station on November 29, 2013 at 10am.

Garda Keith Harrison isn’t mentioned in the minute but it’s recorded that Gerry Hone, from the HSE, addressed the meeting in relation to HSE referrals.

Chief Supt McGinn and Supt McGovern attended that meeting.

Readers will recall it was Supt McGovern who referred matters concerning Garda Harrison and Ms Simms to Gerry Hone, of Tusla, on October 10, 2013.

Previously: ‘You Don’t Just Stand Back And Do Nothing’

Clockwise from top left: Supt Eugene McGovern; Garda Keith Harrison, Marissa Simms; Chief Supt Terry McGinn; Judge Peter Charleton

Today.

At the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle.

Judge Peter Charleton continued to examine matters pertaining to Donegal-based Garda Keith Harrison.

Garda Harrison claims his working life has been difficult since he raised concerns about a garda being involved in the distribution of drugs in Athlone in 2008, and subsequently arrested the same garda for drink-driving in 2009.

It is his contention that the gardai manipulated domestic incidents involving him and his partner Marissa Simms that resulted in a referral being made to Tusla in February 2014.

This has been rejected by both An Garda Siochana and Tusla.

The decision to make a referral in respect of Garda Harrison to Tusla was made during a meeting about a statement made by Ms Simms on October 6, 2013, following a row on September 28, 2013.

At this meeting, it was also decided that a Section 102 referral should be made to GSOC.

A Section 102 referral concerns matters that indicate “the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person”.

Serious harm, the tribunal heard, is defined as: “injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious disfigurement or causes substantial loss or impairment of mobility of the body as a whole or of the function of any particular bodily member or organ”.

Today, Dan Wright, of GSOC, who told the tribunal he was involved in setting up GSOC and writing many of its policies, told the tribunal that, in all his time at GSOC, he can’t ever recall taking a referral such as the one that was sent in to GSOC in respect of Garda Harrison in October 2013.

Ms Simms had neither died nor was seriously injured in the row.

The two rationales communicated to Mr Wright for the Section 102 referral were from Supt McGovern, who said it was due to the “psychological harm” element of the incident and, from Chief Supt Terry McGinn, that it was their belief that Garda Harrison may cause either death or serious harm to Ms Simms in the future.

Mr Wright told the tribunal that GSOC is concerned about matters in the past not the future and that the protection of life and property is a matter for An Garda Siochana and not GSOC.

But first to recap.

Readers will recall the following sequence of events:

September 28 2013: Marissa Simms and Garda Harrison had a row.

October 2, 2013: Ms Simms’ mother Rita McDermott made a statement to Inspector Goretti Sheridan and Sgt Jim Collins about Garda Harrison.

In her statement, Ms McDermott is recorded as saying: “Marisa has said that Keith threatened to burn her and the children…She is scared for her life. He said something about burning her and the children and something about take a good look at them children and you will only see them at weekends.”

October 6, 2013: Ms Simms made a statement to Inspector Goretti Sheridan and Sgt Brigid McGowan in Letterkenny Garda Station over 8.5 hours.

In that statement, it’s recorded that Ms Simms claimed Garda Harrison threatened to burn her during a row on September 28, 2013.

Also in her statement, Ms Simms is recorded as saying that, during texts and emails, during the week after their row and that he: “…didn’t mean that he was physically going to burn me but meant that he was going to destroy me.”

Ms Simms has since told the tribunal that Garda Harrison never threatened to burn her and that he told her she was going to ‘get burnt’ if she didn’t stop trying to please everyone.

October 8, 2013: A meeting is called by Chief Supt for Donegal division Terry McGinn in Letterkenny Garda Station. Those present at the meeting were: Inspector Goretti Sheridan; Chief Supt Terry McGinn; Supt Michael Finan, Detective Inspector Pat O’Donnell and Carl Campbell, of Garda internal affairs.

Also on October 8, 2013, Ms Simms handed her phone into Letterkenny Garda Station. However the tribunal has heard it was not analysed until the start of the tribunal in March 2017.

As mentioned above, at this meeting of October 8, 2013, it was decided that the statements of Ms Simms and Ms McDermott would be forwarded to both the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and a referral would be made Tusla and that an investigation would get under way.

The tribunal has heard evidence from Dan Wright of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, who was the senior investigating officer on call for Section 102 referrals on October 8, 2013.

This morning, he told the tribunal that he received a phonecall from Supt Eugene McGovern at around 12.35pm in which Supt McGovern informed him of a referral over threats by a garda to kill a female.

The tribunal has already heard that, on the same day, an email was sent from Chief Superintendent Anthony McLoughlin of the ‘B’ Branch , or Garda human resources, to Chief Supt Terry McGinn at 12.53pm.

The email stated:

Terry

RE: above and discussion on same. I know that the Supt will inform GSOC. But I am of the view that GSOC should be informed pursuant to S85 of the Act and at this time it is not a S102 referral.
Thanks
Tony

However, Chief Supt McGinn wrote back at 13.14pm:

Tony
The situation has been assessed and Supt McGovern has already made a referral pursuant to S102. We await a response from GSOC.
T

The tribunal has already heard that George O’Doherty, Head of Corporate Services and Human Resources at GSOC, rang Ms Simms about the statement GSOC received on October 9 – at which point she was in hospital with an infection – and that they shared another phone call on October 11, 2013, during which Ms Simms told Mr O’Doherty she did not want GSOC to deal with the matter.

Mr O’Doherty told the tribunal that Rita McDermott’s statement was hearsay as it was third party evidence.

This morning.

Mr Wright told the tribunal that GSOC is compelled to receive every Section 102 referral and there is “clear blue water” between a decision by An Garda Siochana to send a referral and whatever decision GSOC makes in respect of that referral.

Mr Wright told the tribunal “neither group will trespass on the remit of the other”.

Mr Wright said he had heard evidence over the past few weeks that there was this “notion” that GSOC could reject or decline referrals. He said this isn’t true and that once a Section 102 referral is made, GSOC have to deal with it.

He also said there is no power within An Garda Siochana to revoke such a referral.

Mr Wright said that when he spoke to Supt McGovern on the phone he made it clear to him that the protection of life and property is a matter for An Garda Siochana and not for GSOC.

In terms of Mr Wright being aware of Chief Supt McGinn’s rationale for the Section 102 referral – any possible future chance of Garda Harrison harming Ms Simms – Mr Wright said he couldn’t recall where he got that information from.

In terms of Ms Simms telling Mr O’Doherty that she did not wish GSOC to deal with the matter, Mr Wright confirmed to the tribunal that GSOC is not precluded from looking into a matter that it feels would be in the public interest.

Similarly, under cross-examination from Mark Harty SC, for Garda Harrison, Mr Wright confirmed that there is no law in the Garda Act to preclude members of An Garda Siochana from carrying out its own investigation into claims referred to GSOC.

He said:

“You don’t just stand back and do nothing. There are steps to be taken and we would expect those steps to be taken.”

Mr Harty has already told the tribunal that 15 months passed – from the day Ms Simms made her statement – before any garda asked Garda Harrison about the claims.

Last week, while cross-examining Supt McGovern, Mr Harty accused the gardai of not treating the ‘burn’ threat seriously but Supt McGovern said this wasn’t true and that “All threats that come to our attention are assessed.”

The tribunal also heard that Mr Wright wrote to Kevin Clarke, principal officer of the Garda Division in the Department of Justice, on December 10, 2013, in respect of the Section 102 referral.

The correspondence stated:

“I refer to incident referred to GSOC by Supt Eugene McGovern of Milford Garda Station, Co Donegal under Section 102 on Tuesday, October 8, 2013. An examination under Section 91 of the Garda Siochana Act 2005 has been conducted in relation to the above incident and following the examination, the matter has been discontinued.

“The examination of the circumstances clearly shows that at the time of this referral being made, there was no death or serious harm and the matter should have instead been notified to the Garda Ombudsman pursuant to Section 85 of the Act in the normal way. GSOC accepts, however, that the decision to make such a referral is a matter entirely for the Garda Síochána as per current protocol agreement.”

Ms Simms withdrew her statement  on January 11, 2014.

In February 2014, Superintendent Mary Murray was appointed to carry out an independent investigation into Garda Harrison.

On May 14, 2014, Garda Harrison made a protected disclosure.

Chief Supt Terry McGinn confirmed to the tribunal that Supt Murray didn’t take any action until December 2014.

Supt Murray has yet to give evidence.

The tribunal continues.

Previously: ‘It Is A Case Of The Tribunal Blowing Figuratively A Bugle As Loud As It Possibly Can’

Rollingnews

From top: Judge Peter Charleton; Marissa Simms and Garda Keith Harrison

This afternoon.

At the Disclosures Tribunal.

On foot of the emergence of new evidence yesterday which appears to link the Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny to a Garda strategy meeting where it was decided that matters pertaining to a domestic incident between Garda Keith Harrison and his partner Marissa Simms would be referred on to Tusla and GSOC…

It has learned that the note was sent to Garda Headquarters – to be forwarded on to the tribunal – but it did not reach the tribunal.

The notes were written by Chief Supt Terry McGinn who was present at the meeting in Letterkenny Garda Station on October 8, 2013 – two days after Ms Simms gave a statement to gardai on October 6, 2013.

Yesterday, the tribunal heard Chief Supt McGinn jotted down:

“Spoke to Supt O’Loughlin [sic] referral and A/C“

It’s understood Supt O’Loughlin is reference to Chief Supt Anthony McLoughlin, of the B Branch.

Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, told Judge Peter Charleton that the tribunal accepts that Chief Supt Terry McGinn did submit the note to the Garda Headquarters but that it, in fact, didn’t reach the tribunal and wasn’t in the tribunal papers.

Mr McGuinness told the tribunal that Conor Dignam SC, for the Garda Commissioner, had given him a clear explanation of what happened to the note.

He said that Mr Dignam explained that the note got separated in the process of sending categorised pieces of information to satisfy the tribunal’s needs.

He said Mr Dignam explained that the Garda liaison team to the tribunal didn’t realise that the note was relevant to the category HSE/Tusla and, as such, wasn’t forwarded.

Yesterday, Conor Power SC, for Chief Supt McGinn, told the tribunal that the note was submitted to the tribunal in June.

This afternoon, Mr Power apologised to the tribunal but Judge Charleton said that he acted on instructions given to him and that that’s what he was told.

Mr Power said Chief Supt McGinn also wished to apologise to the tribunal.

Judge Charleton, somewhat repeating what he said yesterday, told the tribunal:

“I believe I’m going to go for the chaos theory over the conspiracy theory and the reality is we are inundated with papers.”

He added:

“I’m not viewing anyone as being uncooperateive or deceitful. It’s just one of these things.”

In addition, the tribunal was told that retired Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny has told the tribunal he “has no recollection of the phone call” referred to in the note.

It also heard as, he is on the “far side of the world”, a statement has not yet been provided to the tribunal – as demanded by Judge Charleton yesterday evening.

However, a statement has been made by Chief Supt Anthony McLoughlin, and fresh statements have been made by Chief Supt McGinn and Supt McGovern – which were also demanded by Judge Charleton yesterday evening.

Readers should note that, earlier this week, Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, put it to Garda Harrison:

“There doesn’t appear to be a scintilla of evidence to suggest that either Assistant Commissioner Kenny or the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána or anybody in Garda Headquarters had any input in relation to the meeting that took place on the 8th October and the referral of the matter to Tusla?”

Readers should also note that it has been Garda Harrison’s contention that An Garda Siochana manipulated Tusla to intervene in his family life for malicious reasons – a claim both agencies deny.

Garda Harrison claims his working life has been difficult since he raised concerns about a garda being involved in the distribution of drugs in Athlone in 2008, and subsequently arrested the same garda for drink-driving in 2009.

Supt Eugene McGovern has resumed giving evidence.

Chief Supt Terry McGinn is scheduled to give evidence after Supt McGovern.

Earlier: Meanwhile At The Disclosures Tribunal

‘It’s A Case Of The Tribunal Blowing Figuratively A Bugle As Loud As It Possibly Can’

Clockwise from left: Judge Peter Charleton, retired Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny, Garda Keith Harrison and members of his legal team

This morning.

At the Disclosures Tribunal.

Proceedings have yet to begin and it’s just been announced that they now won’t start until 1.30pm.

Readers may recall how the tribunal heard new evidence late yesterday which appeared to link the Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny to a Garda strategy meeting where it was decided that matters pertaining to a domestic incident between Garda Keith Harrison and his partner Marissa Simms would be referred on to Tusla and GSOC.

The notes were written by Chief Supt Terry McGinn who was present at the meeting in Letterkenny Garda Station on October 8, 2013 – two days after Ms Simms gave a statement to gardai on October 6, 2013.

Yesterday, the tribunal heard Chief Supt McGinn jotted down:

Spoke to Supt O’Loughlin [sic] referral and A/C“

It’s understood Supt O’Loughlin is reference to Chief Supt Anthony McLoughlin, of the B Branch.

Earlier this week, Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, put it to Garda Harrison that there didn’t appear to be “a scintilla of evidence to suggest that either Assistant Commissioner Kenny or the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána or anybody in Garda Headquarters had any input in relation to the meeting that took place on the 8th October and the referral of the matter to Tusla”.

Yesterday, in light of the note, Judge Charleton called for statements to be made to the tribunal by both retired Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny and Chief Supt McLoughlin by this morning at 10am.

Judge Charleton also criticised the Garda Commissioner for not ensuring that Mr Kenny and Mr McLoughlin had made statements.

Readers should note that, subsequent to the meeting of October 8, 2013, a house visit was eventually made by social worker Donna McTeague to the home of Garda Harrison and his partner Marissa Simms on February 19, 2014 and, after concluding there were no issues of concern, Garda Harrison and Ms Simms received a letter from Tusla on February 27, 2014 to say the matter was closed.

In respect of the GSOC referral, it was sent to GSOC on October 9, 2013, as a Section 102 referral which concerns matters that indicate “the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person”.

The tribunal has already heard that the GSOC referral didn’t proceed.

George O’Doherty, Head of Corporate Services and Human Resources at GSOC, said there was nothing in Ms Simms’ statement to suggest such “serious harm” had been inflicted on her.

In addition, it heard that, on December 10, 2013, Dan Wright, of GSOC, wrote to the then Chief Superintendent in Internal Affairs, Chief Supt Anthony McLoughlin, to tell him that the Section 102 referral was “improperly referred in the view of the Commission” but added: “The Garda Ombudsman Commission accepts, however, that the decision to refer a matter to GSOC is entirely one for An Garda Síochána.”

More to follow.

Previously: ‘It Is A Case Of The Tribunal Bowing Figuratively A Bugle As Loud As It Possible Can’

Clockwise from left: Garda Keith Harrison, Marissa Simms, Judge Peter Charleton and former Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny

Earlier today.

At the Disclosures Tribunal.

Judge Peter Charleton continued to examine matters pertaining to Donegal-based Garda Keith Harrison.

Garda Harrison claims his working life has been difficult since he raised concerns about a garda being involved in the distribution of drugs in Athlone in 2008, and subsequently arrested the same garda for drink-driving in 2009.

At around 4pm today, Judge Charleton adjourned the tribunal’s proceedings after demanding that several gardai – including the former Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny and Chief Superintendent Anthony McLoughlin of the ‘B’ Branch – issue statements to the tribunal by 10am tomorrow.

He warned that if the deadline is not met, he may have to “say something else”.

He also made a 10-minute speech in which he said the tribunal was blowing a bugle “as loud as it possibly can to ask people to just wake up and start helping us, and, in blowing that bugle, I am not saying that there has been any concealment, any deviousness, any conspiracy, but what I am saying is that things could have been done a lot better and they ought to be done now.”

Judge Charleton’s demand follows the emergence of new evidence in the form of notes from a meeting held in Letterkenny Garda Station on October 8, 2013, which appear to link the former Assistant Garda Commissioner Kieran Kenny to moves made by An Garda Siochana in relation to Garda Harrison and his family.

The meeting took place two days after Inspector Goretti Sheridan and Sgt Brigid McGowan recorded a statement made by the partner of Garda Keith Harrison Marissa Simms, also at Letterkenny Garda Station, on October 6, 2013.

In that statement, it’s recorded that Ms Simms claimed Garda Harrison threatened to burn her during a row on September 28, 2013.

Ms Simms has since told the tribunal that Garda Harrison never threatened to burn her and that he told her she was going to ‘get burnt’ if she didn’t stop trying to please everyone.

In addition, the tribunal has heard of a statement made by Ms Simms’ mother Rita McDermott to Inspector Goretti Sheridan and Sgt Jim Collins on October 2, 2013 – four days before Ms Simms made her statement.

In her statement, Ms McDermott is recorded as saying: “Marisa has said that Keith threatened to burn her and the children…She is scared for her life. He said something about burning her and the children and something about take a good look at them children and you will only see them at weekends.”

At the meeting of October 8, 2013, it was decided that the statements of Ms Simms and Ms McDermott would be forwarded to both the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and Tusla and that an investigation would get under way.

It has been Garda Harrison’s contention that An Garda Siochana manipulated Tusla to intervene in his family life for malicious reasons – a claim both agencies deny.

Subsequent to the meeting of October 8, 2013, a house visit was eventually made by social worker Donna McTeague to the home of Garda Harrison and his partner Marissa Simms on February 19, 2014 and, after concluding there were no issues of concern, Garda Harrison and Ms Simms received a letter from Tusla on February 27, 2014 to say the matter was closed.

In respect of the GSOC referral, it was sent to GSOC on October 9, 2013, as a Section 102 referral which concerns matters that indicate “the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person”.

Serious harm, the tribunal heard, is defined as

“injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious disfigurement or causes substantial loss or impairment of mobility of the body as a whole or of the function of any particular bodily member or organ”.

Last week, under cross examination from Mark Harty, SC for Garda Harrison, George O’Doherty, Head of Corporate Services and Human Resources at GSOC, told the tribunal Ms McDermott’s statement was hearsay as it was third party evidence while there was nothing in Ms Simms’ statement to suggest such “serious harm” had been inflicted on her.

The tribunal heard that Mr O’Doherty rang Ms Simms about the statement GSOC received on October 9 – at which point she was in hospital with an infection – and that they shared another phone call on October 11, 2013, during which Ms Simms told Mr O’Doherty she did not want GSOC to deal with the matter.

In addition.

While cross-examining Mr O’Doherty last week, Mr Harty told the tribunal that Chief Supt Terry McGinn – who is due to give evidence tomorrow – was told, “by Garda internal affairs” within 18 minutes of the section 102 referral being made, it was not an appropriate matter for a section 102 referral.

Mr O’Doherty said he wasn’t aware of this.

Asked if, as far as he was concerned, Chief Supt McGinn didn’t contact GSOC to withdraw the Section 102 referral, Mr O’Doherty said he wasn’t aware.

In any event.

Those in attendance at the October 8 meeting were Inspector Goretti Sheridan; Chief Supt Terry McGinn; Supt Michael Finan, Detective Inspector Pat O’Donnell and Carl Campbell, of Garda internal affairs.

And according to the notes taken during the meeting, by Chief Supt McGinn, which emerged this afternoon, she jotted down:

Spoke to Supt O’Loughlin [sic] referral and A/C Kenny“.

The mention of Supt McLoughlin and former Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny follows Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, asking Garda Harrison earlier this week questions pertaining to his understanding of that meeting on October 8, 2013.

They had the following exchange:

Patrick Marrinan: “… I’m talking about an input into the meeting on 8th October. There doesn’t appear to be a scintilla of evidence to suggest that either Assistant Commissioner Kenny or the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána or anybody in Garda Headquarters had any input in relation to the meeting that took place on the 8th October and the referral of the matter to Tusla?

Keith Harrison: “Well, I’d disagree there, because we have seen and we know that Garda Carl Campbell had sent information to Internal Affairs, which is based in Phoenix headquarters, so there was information leaving the division and going to other areas in Garda management, and that’s there to be seen.”

Further to this…

The note of the meeting in October 2013, by Chief Supt McGinn, was given to Mr Harty SC, Garda Harrison just before 3pm today, while he was cross-examining Supt Eugene McGovern.

Mr Harty told the tribunal the note was given to Diarmuid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, just 20 minutes prior to his receipt of it, and that the reference to discussions with Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny was something of which he knew nothing.

Mr Harty went on to say that, given the emergence  of this note, he was very concerned that there are other documents that the tribunal has not seen, especially as this new note is “directly relevant” to the meeting of October 8.

Discussions of the note led to some tetchy exchanges between Judge Charleton and Mr Harty – with Judge Charleton claiming he was “under attack” before Judge Charleton later called for the statements by 10am tomorrow and adjourned the proceedings.

Initially, Judge Charleton said that he didn’t think the note was “the famous silver bullet that is being looked for” but said he is “very willing to listen to everything”.

Judge Charleton then suggested that Mr Harty continue to cross-examine Supt McGovern.

However, Mr Harty insisted that the matter wasn’t marginal as this was the meeting that prompted contact with the HSE/Tusla and GSOC.

Mr Harty said:

There is no possibility that anybody could have believed that this document was irrelevant. And what my difficulty with that is, is that if I am receiving this now, what other documents am I not seeing that are directly relevant to this issue?

The tribunal then heard that Chief Supt McGinn provided the document to the tribunal in June of this year.

Following on from that, Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, said Diarmuid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, was checking the tribunal’s investigators’ position.

As Mr Harty began to raise his concerns, Judge Charleton told him:

“I don’t think there is any point in actually feeding, you know, a great sense of conspiracy. It is not going to help anybody. It’s not going to help your client, for instance. It really doesn’t help me either. We are looking into this, there may be a perfectly innocent explanation. I tend to go for the chaos theory before I go for the conspiracy theory and that is the right way to approach things, Mr Harty.”

Mr Harty said he wasn’t trying to accuse anyone of any conspiracy but suggested that Mr Kenny should have made a statement to the tribunal. He also called for Mr Kenny to give evidence to the tribunal.

At that point, Mr Harty asked for time to speak with Mr Harrison to take instructions from him.

Judge Charleton said:

I tend to wonder at the amount of heat and emotion being generated in relation to this, Mr Harty, and I am not happy about it…  No, Mr Harty, I really am not happy about it. I mean, I think it’s the duty of counsel to pursue matters in accordance with what he regards as being important to the case, not necessarily to take instructions in relation to what counsel is to do on a matter.”

Judge Charleton and Mr Harty then had the following exchange:

Harty: “…My client was accused and asked, in fact by the Chair of the Tribunal, how he came to the conclusion that there were people outside the Donegal division who were running this conspiracy about him. This is directly relevant to a question that the Chair of this Tribunal put in incredulous terms to my client in the witness-box.”

Charleton: Mr Harty, I am now under attack.

Harty: No, sir.

Charleton: No, I am under attack and I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s fair to impugn the integrity of the person whose job it is to actually find the truth in relation to this matter. Now, I think what we ought to do is, I think you are right, we ought to adjourn for a number of minutes so that calm perhaps will return.”

Following a brief adjournment, Judge Charleton spoke for around 10 minutes before adjourning.

He said:

“All right. I think I need to say something now. I was asked to do this Tribunal in February of this year and indeed we started hearings I think in June and continued on through July. But the very first thing that I did was that I sat alone without the advice of counsel, apart from Ms. Leader, who was on board at that stage, and I made a statement in the two official languages of the State asking for cooperation, and in particular, thinking, perhaps naively, that this was going to be the most efficient tribunal that had been run for a number of years, I asked for people who actually knew things relevant to the terms of reference to write to the Tribunal and tell us what they knew.

“Now, some people did. Appreciating as well that as time goes on, certain issues crystallise as being of importance, if you like, a pivot in a case, it has been pretty clear, it seems to me, for the last couple of weeks that one of the important pivots in this case from which something perhaps might be made in terms of the book being thrown at Garda Harrison in consequence of the statement made on 6th October, was the 8th October 2013 meeting.

“Now, I, of course, have no idea as to whether there was a decision to throw the book at Garda Keith Harrison or if that happened, whether it was unjustifiable in the context. Just as, at this stage, having heard some of the evidence, I have absolutely no idea until we come to the end of matters and the matter has been considered as to how the statement on 6th October 2013 was taken, or indeed as to the veracity or otherwise of that statement in the context of the events that stretched back at that point about three years but focusing in particular on events which occurred in April, August and on the 28th September and on other dates.

“But it has been completely clear, as I said, that this conference on 8th October 2013, when there was a reference to GSOC under section 102 of the Garda Act, which refers to death or serious injury to a person, was made, and where also there was a reference to Tusla/HSE authorities, and, following on, it seems, later, where there was a reference indeed to discipline and also the start of a criminal investigation, was a serious and a pivotal point. Now, I know that. The Garda Commissioner is represented here, they know that.

“And today, for the first time, we have a reference to Assistant Commissioner Kenny somehow being consulted in relation to this and B Branch being consulted in relation to this, that is to say Superintendent O’Loughlin [sic]. There should have been reference to that in the statement, I believe, of Chief Superintendent McGinn, possibly – if he remembered it – in Superintendent McGovern’s own statement, I don’t know, but it’s not there, and we should also have had, in consequence of what the Tribunal asked for in February, a statement from Assistant Commissioner Kenny relevant to this and a statement from B Branch relevant to this, and we don’t. And we should have had.

“Now, that’s not the Tribunal’s fault. The Tribunal has asked for these things and, frankly, I can think at the moment of no excuse why they haven’t happened. I mentioned earlier in dialogue with Mr Harty, who has properly drawn this to my attention, that of course during the course of cases, be they criminal or civil, from time to time documents crop up and quite often perhaps in the past, courts in this country have made too much in relation to them.

“Now, whether it be the case that it is possible to say that a conspiracy in relation to Garda Harrison was widely promulgated as and of the meeting of 8th of October, whether it went back to an earlier date or not, again I have no idea but that certainly has been the focus of inquiries over the course of the last two to three weeks, and therefore, this matter is actually of importance. So what happened here in relation to this document?

“Well, Mr [Conor] Power has said that this particular diary entry was given to the Tribunal in June. One of the difficulties that we have is that until such time as things are actually typed up, that they are not searchable on our computer system.

“…  We seem to have had this document, but I am having inquiries made overnight, and I don’t know why it didn’t come up, but, again, I can’t find that out in the course of the last 15 to 20 minutes, but certainly a complaint in relation to it is valid. So now the question is, what can I do in relation to it.

“Well, the duty that is cast on me, and on me alone, in relation to this matter, by the Oireachtas, is to investigate contacts between members of An Garda Síochána and Tusla in relation to Garda Keith Harrison. Now, a reference was made to Tusla, that is to say a formal reference, in consequence of this conference of the 8th of October 2013. As to what the motivation of the Garda Síochána was, is, of course, important, very important.

“We have heard from the Tusla witnesses, but we are not yet finished hearing from the Garda Síochána witnesses, and I don’t know where the evidence is going to go. What is certain to me is that this should have been referred to, and I have said this earlier, possibly in Superintendent McGovern’s statement – I am not going to ascribe blame to anybody at this stage – probably in Chief Superintendent McGinn’s statement. It’s not there referenced.

“And in addition to that, I am absolutely certain that the Garda Commissioner, in consequence of this Tribunal asking for their assistance as and from February, should have caused a statement to be taken in relation to this from Assistant Commissioner Kenny and from Superintendent O’Loughlin [sic].

“So what I am going to do now is the following: Firstly, I am going to adjourn overnight because we have to. Secondly, I am going to make inquiries as to this document and as to whether there is anything else that could possibly be there in handwriting that might be referable. Now, that search is going to be made.

“And, in addition, I am requiring Assistant Commissioner Kenny to have a statement available to the Tribunal at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning and Superintendent O’Loughlin of B Branch in Garda Headquarters to have a statement available to the Tribunal at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning and I am also asking for an additional statement from Chief Superintendent McGinn in relation to this particular issue. And although it’s interrupting the evidence of Superintendent Eugene McGovern, Superintendent McGovern, who is now giving evidence, I am going to ask him if he has a recollection in consequence of this to make an additional statement.

“Can I just emphasise one thing, please, and that is this: As I said to Mr Harty when he made the submissions, which have properly drawn attention to this matter, I tend to go for the conspiracy theory only when the chaos theory has been outruled, but this is not a case of the Tribunal now ascribing blame to anybody, but it is a case of the Tribunal blowing figuratively a bugle as loud as it possibly can to ask people to just wake up and start helping us, and, in blowing that bugle, I am not saying that there has been any concealment, any deviousness, any conspiracy, but what I am saying is that things could have been done a lot better and they ought to be done now.

“Now, in the event that things aren’t available to me at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning, it may be necessary for me to say something else. For the moment, that is all I am going to say, and I am not going to hear any submissions now, and I am going to sit again at 10 o’clock in the morning.”

At that point, Mr Power SC, for Supt McGinn attempted to clarify the name of Superintendent McLoughlin – as opposed to O’Loughlin – with Judge Charleton.

But Judge Charleton simply said “no” and left the room.

Separately.

Readers may also wish to note that Assistant Commissioner Kenny has previously given evidence in relation to matters concerning Sgt Maurice McCabe and Tusla.

The tribunal heard he forwarded the false rape allegation, recorded against Sgt McCabe, to the office of the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan on May 16, 2014, despite being aware that the incorrect allegation was wholly different to the allegation that was made in 2006, and subsequently dismissed in 2007.

As he passed it on to Ms O’Sullivan, Mr Kenny didn’t advise her that the allegation was different to that of 2006.

In addition, the tribunal has heard how Mr Kenny did later receive a corrected referral from Tusla on May 20, 2014 but never forwarded this on to Ms O’Sullivan.

Det Supt Frank Walsh, who worked as private secretary to the commissioner until last year, told the tribunal in the summer that the false allegation against Sgt McCabe was still on file in the Commissioner’s office until the tribunal began earlier this year.

The tribunal continues.

Previously: Meanwhile, At The Disclosures Tribunal

Meanwhile, At The Disclosures Tribunal

‘I Didn’t Exclude Him, I Just Didn’t Include Him’

Rollingnews

Garda Keith Harrison and Marissa Simms at the Disclosures Tribunal this morning

This afternoon.

The Disclosures Tribunal is continuing and Garda Keith Harrison is continuing to give evidence.

Garda Harrison is involved in the tribunal as he claims he has been targeted by senior officers and that Tusla social workers were “brought into the equation due to the manipulation of his situation and the extraction of an unfair and untrue series of allegations of serious domestic misconduct by his domestic partner“.

Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton, who is overseeing the proceedings, is specifically looking at the tribunal’s term of reference ‘n’ – which is “to investigate contacts between members of An Garda Siochana and TUSLA in relation to Garda Keith Harrison”.

It follows a visit made by social worker Donna McTeague in February 2014 to the home of Ms Simms and Garda Harrison in Donegal in which Ms McTeague spoke with the children in the home – a visit which the couple claims has had a profound effect on them.

Both Ms Simms and Garda Harrison have told the tribunal that they have no issue with Ms McTeague.

Further to this.

Garda Keith Harrison and Marissa Simms received a letter from Tulsa on February 2, 2014, in which Tusla requested a meeting with Ms Simms and Garda Harrison.

The couple met with Tusla members on February 7; there was a follow-up phone call on February 14 to confirm a home visit; and the home visit took place on February 19, 2014.

The events with Tusla came several weeks after Ms Simms withdrew her 38-page statement on January 11, 2014 – made to gardai during an 8.5-hour interview, on October 6, 2013 – in which it’s recorded that she said Garda Harrison threatened to burn her.

Ms Simms has since told the tribunal: “He never threatened to burn me. Ever.”

Ms Simms also told the tribunal that, when she was withdrawing her statement, Inspector Goretti Sheridan, who took Ms Simms’ statement along with Sgt Brigid McGowan, told her a story about another unnamed couple.

Ms Simms alleged: “She said, they had a row in front of their children and now social services are involved in these children’s lives and I can’t guarantee you that won’t happen to you.”

When Inspector Sheridan gave evidence in relation to this allegation, she said: “No, I did not, no way did I say that to Marissa.”

In a statement to the tribunal, about the February 2 letter, Marissa Simms said she “had no idea what this was for and assumed it was the doing of the gardaí in Letterkenny, because I took back the statement, and as suggested what would happen by Goretti Sheridan, social services were getting involved”.

When giving evidence, Ms Simms repeated that she assumed the arrival of the letter from Tusla was because she retracted her statement. So, it was suggested to her that maybe it was the case that she did know what the letter was about.

She said: “I had an idea, yes.”

In relation to the initial meeting on February 7, Ms Simms said in her statement to the tribunal: “Ms McTeague explained that she dealt with families where children were at immediate risk but was confused as to her role in this instance as the incident occurred over four months previously.”

The tribunal has heard Ms McTeague has said she was never confused and never said this.

In her statement, Ms Simms said: “Before we [Keith and Marissa] left McTeague told us she didn’t think we would hear from her again, that she would be reporting to her team leader. No further action was necessary.”

“We left with mixed emotions, relieved that because that was the end of the matter, angry we had to go through that.”

In relation to the follow-up call made by Ms McTeague to arrange a home visit, Ms Simms, in her statement, said: “I was astounded and upset when I received a call from Donna McTeague. She apologised and stated that her team leader had been contacted by the guards and, as a result, she now had to do a house visit.”

While giving evidence, Judge Charleton specifically asked Ms Simms about her claim that Ms McTeague told her on the phone that she had to do a house visit because Tusla had been contacted by the guards.

Ms Simms said: “She didn’t say directly we have been contacted by the guards, no.”

She later said: “I’m just saying that she rang and said that she would have to do a house visit because of a direction she had been given by her superior.”

Judge Charleton asked: “Nothing to do with the Gardaí?”

Ms Simms replied: “No.”

She later said it was her “assumption” that the gardai had been in contact with TUSLA after she withdrew her statement.

The tribunal heard that in a statement to the tribunal, Ms McTeague wrote:

I did not say my team leader had been contacted by the guards and, as a result, I had to do a home visit. The decision to undertake a home visit in any case for the purposes of completing an initial assessment is based on the need to ensure children’s voices and views are sought, observed and recorded in our assessments.

“In this case, it was my view, based on the information I had at the time of meeting with Ms. Simms and Garda Harrison, that there were likely no ongoing child welfare/child protection concerns. However, I added that I may need to visit the children. Both Ms. Simms and Garda Harrison agreed. Following discussion with my team leader, it was agreed I would, in fact, complete the home visit, meet the children, and if no new issues arising, the case would be closed.”

Meanwhile.

At the Disclosures Tribunal today.

Garda Keith Harrison is continuing to give evidence.

The claims made about what Ms McTeague did or did not say have been put to him.

Judge Charleton set out three specific questions to Garda Harrison. He asked:

Was he saying that, at the end of the meeting on February 7, that, as far as everyone was concerned, a home visit was unlikely.

Garda Harrison said: Yes

Judge Charleton also asked was Garda Harrison saying that, somehow, gardai manipulated a situation that gave rise to a “change of plan” resulting in a home visit.

Garda Harrison said: Yes.

Judge Charleton also asked was Garda Harrison saying that the change in the mind of Tusla was affected by the gardai for malicious reasons against him.

Garda Harrison said: Yes.

Following on from this.

Patrick, Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, read out excerpts from an affidavit that Garda Harrison lodged in High Court on May 15, 2015, regarding claims made about Ms McTeague.

These include the claim that Ms McTeague was confused about why she was meeting with Ms Simms and Garda Harrison on February 7, 2014.

As mentioned above, the tribunal has heard Ms McTeague has said this is not true.

The affidavit also includes the claim that Ms McTeague said she might have to meet the children but that it’s unlikely – however this has also been refuted by Ms McTeague.

In relation to the claim that Ms McTeague told Ms Simms over the phone that she had to make a home visit because of contact with the gardai, Garda Harrison said he was standing by this claim.

Judge Charleton intervened to point out that, in his statement to the tribunal, Garda Harrison was ascribing words to Ms McTeague and inferring that he heard Ms McTeague say them.

He asked Garda Harrison if she said them and if she didn’t, why was he ascribing them to her.

Garda Harrison admitted that he did not speak to her directly and that this was information relayed to him by Ms Simms.

Mr Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, pointed out that, nowhere in either his statement to the tribunal or in his affidavit did he make it clear that this information came from Ms Simms and that he didn’t have direct knowledge.

Garda Harrison told the tribunal: “I am in no doubt that this was said to me.”

Mr Marrinan accused Garda Harrison of tailoring his evidence.

Garda Harrison responded: “No, I’m not tailoring anything.”

Garda Harrison has also claimed in his statement to the tribunal, and in his affidavit, that, during the home visit, Ms McTeague said her team leader Bridgeen Smyth was close to Sgt Brigid McGowan from Letterkenny Garda Station.

The tribunal has heard that Ms McTeague has said: “At no point in time did I ever make reference to any relationship or otherwise between Sgt McGowan and Bridgeen Smith in my discussions with Marissa Simms or Keith Harrison.”

She also said her belief is that their relationship is purely professional.

Garda Harrison told the tribunal that Ms Simms told him that Ms McTeague said that.

He told the tribunal: “There was certainly mention of that to Marissa. I’ve no doubt about that.”

However, he conceded he wasn’t in the presence of the two women when this allegedly discussed as they were in another room while he was with the children in the sitting room.

Asked how he could make this claim in his affidavit and statement, he said: “Because it was a result of a direct conversation I had with Marissa afterwards.”

Garda Harrison added: “I’m satisfied I was told the truth.”

The tribunal continues.

Previously: Meanwhile, At The Disclosures Tribunal

Garda Keith Harrison and Marissa Simms

This morning.

At the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle.

The partner of Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison Marissa Simms, who has claimed to have raised concerns about a garda being involved in the distribution of drugs in Athlone in 2008, is continuing to give evidence.

Once finished, Garda Harrison will give evidence.

Garda Harrison is involved in the Disclosures Tribunal as he claims he has been targeted by senior officers and that Tusla social workers were “brought into the equation due to the manipulation of his situation and the extraction of an unfair and untrue series of allegations of serious domestic misconduct by his domestic partner“.

Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton, who is overseeing the proceedings, is specifically looking at the tribunal’s term of reference ’n’ – which is “to investigate contacts between members of An Garda Siochana and TUSLA in relation to Garda Keith Harrison”.

It follows a visit made by social worker Donna McTeague in early 2014 to the home of Ms Simms and Garda Harrison in Donegal in which Ms McTeague spoke with the children in the home – a visit which the couple claims has had a profound effect on them.

Yesterday, the tribunal took a turn when it heard Ms Simms say she has no issues with Tusla or the HSE or with Ms McTeague whom, she said, acted professionally and appropriately on foot of receiving a referral from the gardai.

It was also put to Ms Simms by Desmond Dockery SC, for Inspector Goretti Sheridan and Sgt Brigid McGowan – who took a statement from Ms Simms about Garda Keith Harrison in October 2013 but which Ms Simms subsequently withdrew in January 2014 – that she has no basis for believing that gardai manipulated the HSE in relation to the referral.

Ms Simms said: “That’s correct”.

On foot of this, Mr Dockery asked Ms Simms that, if that was her position, on what grounds did she make a complaint to GSOC last year in which she alleged the gardai abused their authority and made a referral in relation to Ms Simms’ children.

Ms Simms said she based it on her thinking that it wasn’t a coincidence that soon after she withdrew her statement on January 11, 2014, she received a letter from Tusla on February 2, 2014.

Mr Dockery suggested to Ms Simms that she is someone who has “a casual regard for people’s professional reputations”.

Ms Simms replied: “Absolutely not”.

At one point, Judge Peter Charleton directly asked Ms Simms: “What are you actually saying about the Garda and the HSE?”

Ms Simms replied: “I’m not inferring anything.”

At another point, Paul Anthony McDermott SC, for Tusla, stated:

“…there is a letter written on behalf of Marisa Simms and Garda Harrison by their solicitors to Dr [Katherine] Zappone, who is the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; in other words, my client’s Minister…it says: “The manner of intervention of Tusla in our client’s family life is a cause of concern and is by any measure an inexcusable abuse of their position.”

It was my understanding that the reason we’re here in this module was to investigate that allegation. It appears as though it is no longer being pursued.”

For the past week, the tribunal has heard of incidents and events in 2013 that led up to Ms McTeague’s visit and claims, and counter-claims, about the same.

The incidents include:

  • Several domestic disputes between Ms Simms and Garda Harrison;
  • Visits and phone calls to garda stations by members of Marissa Simms’ family, in which allegations were made against Garda Harrison;
  • A statement made to gardai by Marissa Simms’ mother Rita McDermott about Garda Harrison on October 2, 2013 in which she said Ms Simms told her Garda Harrison threatened to burn her and the children. Last month, however, Mrs McDermott told tribunal investigators “I did not say this”. Last week she said she simply doesn’t remember saying that.
  • A 38-page statement made to gardai by Ms Simms on October 6, 2013, made during an 8.5-hour interview, in which it’s recorded that she claimed Garda Harrison threatened to burn her on September 28, 2013. Ms Simms told the tribunal yesterday: “He never threatened to burn me. Ever.”
  • Ms Simms’ statement also records her saying that Garda Harrison told her: ‘I am going to bury her [Ms Simms’ sister Paula] and you’. Ms Simms told the tribunal yesterday that Garda Harrison said he’d ‘bury’ Ms McDermott, in the sense of getting her back for not inviting him to her wedding on October 4, 2013, but inviting Ms Simms’ ex-husband.
  • Both Insp Sheridan and Sgt McGowan have told the tribunal the words contained in Ms Simms’ statement are her words.
  • Three texts sent from Ms Simms to Garda Harrison on September 29 and September 30, 2013, in which she referred to a threat made by him to burn her. Ms Simms told the tribunal yesterday that she sent them immaturely to hurt him.
  • Ms Simms’ sister Paula McDermott’s wedding on October 4, 2013 – which Garda Harrison was not invited to – something which was causing a lot of tension between Ms Simms, Garda Harrison and Ms Simms’ family.
  • Two death threats against Garda Harrison made via phone calls to garda stations on October 4 and 5, 2013.
  • The subsequent sending by gardai of Ms Simms’ and Mrs McDermott’s statements as a Section 102 referral to GSOC. This did not proceed as Section 102 referrals concern matters that indicate “the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person”. Also, on October 11, 2013 – after GSOC contacted Ms Simms to tell her they had received her statement – she told GSOC she did not wish GSOC to deal with the matter.
  • On foot of GSOC’s decision to close their file on it, the sending of a request to the Assistant Commissioner in Sligo to appoint a superintendent from outside Garda Keith Harrison’s division to investigate the matters.
  • A strategy meeting between gardai and social workers on October 21, 2013, between Sgt McGowan and social workers Donna McTeague and Brigeen Smyth.Sgt McGowan’s notes of the meeting note: “Allegation of emotional abuse. Child allegedly present during verbal altercation”.Notes of the meeting from the HSE record: “Marissa Simms made statement of complaint to Gardaí detailing incident when child/children were present. Incident was a verbal disagreement between Marisa Simms and current partner.”Ms Teague, in her notes, recorded: “The incident was reported to be a verbal disagreement between Ms Simms and Mr Harrison. Mr Harrison was reported to be under the influence of alcohol and inappropriate physical contact was made by him on Ms Simms which the children witnessed. Sergeant McGowan did not go into any additional specific details contained in Ms. Simms’ statement.”

    Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal, suggested that the HSE seem to be implying, according to what they’ve told the tribunal, that “they didn’t have appropriate information in light of what they now know about the contents of Ms Simms’ statement?”

    Sgt McGowan told the tribunal: “I am in no doubt that I told the HSE that the children were present on the 28th September when the threats were made as contained in Marisa Simms’ statement, and I told them of the threats, and I specifically remember using the words “burn and bury” during the course of that meeting.”

  • Ms Simms withdrawing her October 2013 statement on January 11, 2014.
  • Sgt McGowan saying she informed Ms McTeague that the statement had been withdrawn, but having no note of it, and the HSE saying it only became aware after it followed up the matter with Sgt McGowan.The tribunal heard a HSE note recorded at the end of January 2014: “Telephone call to Sergeant McGowan. Purpose of call to assert current status regarding Garda investigation so as to allow SWD to proceed with investigation. Sergeant McGowan advised that Marisa Simms made a second statement to Gardaí in the past fortnight in the past fortnight, advising her that while the content of the original statement was completely true, she did not want the matter investigated by Gardaí.

    “She was withdrawing her complaint. Ms. Simms is back in a relationship with Mr. Keith Harrison, the person against who original complaint was made. DSW advised that in order to progress matter report from Gardaí on specific information in original complaint will be required by SWD so as to progress SW investigation.”

    Sergeant McGowan to forward report to DSW as soon as possible. DSW to send invite to Ms Simms and Mr Harrison in first instance. Invite to meeting to be sent to Mr Andrew Simms following receipt of report from Gardaí so as to ensure accurate information shared.”

Sgt McGowan told the tribunal earlier this week:

“The purpose of the strategy meeting on 21st October was to inform the HSE of the serious allegations that were contained in Ms Simms’ statement.

“In relation to the notes of the HSE, I can’t answer for them, but I can say that I have never been asked to forward a report of that nature in relation to any matter that I have ever dealt with the HSE.”

The tribunal also heard yesterday that, on October 7, 2013, the day after Ms Simms made her statement, she looked up safety orders on the internet.

Under direct examination from Kathleen Leader, BL, for the tribunal, Ms Simms said that the reason she did was so was because Insp Sheridan had mentioned safety orders to her during the 8.5-hour meeting in Letterkenny Garda Station and that, as she had never heard of one, she looked it up online.

It was suggested yesterday to Ms Simms that, based on what was in her statement and her texts, a cynical person might think Ms Simms is now claiming the burn threat to be something other than that recorded in her statement “because you are now in a stable relationship with him [Garda Harrison] and you don’t want any of the bad things to happen to him that you looked up on the 7th October, didn’t want him to lose his job, or be prosecuted in relation to the threats and you didn’t want a safety order any more?”

Ms Simms told the tribunal:

“I accept that, but I’m not here to defend Garda Keith Harrison. I am here because my children have Pulse IDs and they don’t deserve that.”

More to follow.

Previously: Meanwhile At The Disclosures Tribunal