Garda Keith Harrison
Yesterday, RTÉ’s This Week had an item about Garda Keith Harrison who arrested a member of the drugs unit in Athlone for suspected drink driving.
Garda Harrison claims his career has been ruined by this arrest which, although not reported in the RTÉ report, took place in 2009.
Reporter John Burke explained that Garda Harrison made a complaint to the then Garda Confidential Recipient “two and a half years ago”, before making a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
Mr Burke said: “GSOC are still awaiting clarification on key issues relating to that investigation which is now running for over two years”.
In his report, Mr Burke played an interview he recorded with Garda Harrison’s solicitor Trevor Collins, of Galway-based Kilfeather Solicitors.
During the interview, Mr Collins said:
“My experience, on behalf of my client, is one of frustration in that he brought a complaint, originally to the Garda Confidential Recipient, almost two and a half years ago. Eventually, that was referred to GSOC and GSOC have had this complaint for two years. My client has provided all the information and complied with every request that’s been made of him by GSOC but, much to his frustration, he has been left in limbo for the last two years.
“We, on his behalf, have been pressing GSOC for an explanation as to why these delays have arisen and it is correct to say that GSOC did provide us with an explanation whereby they have told us that their delay in the investigation is due to an apparent delay on the part of An Garda Síochána in furnishing them in whatever information it is they require to conclude their investigation.”
“I’m not privy to the precise details, John, I can only speak on behalf of my client. In terms of the prejudice it causes him and I was advised by GSOC that they’re still waiting for further information from An Garda Síochána.”
“…It is apparent to us that the legislation they (GSOC) wish to rely upon, the power that they have, to investigate is not fit for purpose in that it doesn’t provide them the teeth – and I think that was the word used by Judge Mary Ellen Ring to compel An Garda Síochána to deliver the information they seek. That’s the significant point here.”
“GSOC can make all the requests they wish of and for information but, at the moment, it’s for the gardaí to decide when they wish to deliver that information.”
Further to this…
Readers may wish to Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty’s claims about Garda Harrison in the Dáil on May 15, 2014 – a week after the then Minister for Justice Alan Shatter resigned.
More than a month ago I was contacted by a serving member of An Garda Síochána who relayed to me very disturbing allegations in regard to Garda practices in the Westmeath division but not exclusive to that division. I subsequently met with this garda and have had a number of telephone conversations with him since.
On the day that the former Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, resigned, that garda called me and told me that as a result of that resignation he now had more faith in the confidential recipient process and was going to arrange a meeting. That meeting took place today.
Garda Keith Harrison claims that as a result of arresting a member of the drugs unit in Athlone for drunk driving, that Garda management maliciously set out targeting him while the arrested garda was afforded protection by Garda management.
He claims that a managerial review of his high work returns and practices was instigated and persons who had past interactions with him in the execution of his duties were invited by the Garda to make complaints against him.
He claims that during this period from September 2009 until March 2011, he was office-bound while the garda he arrested, who had been found with a high concentration of alcohol, was still driving official vehicles and carrying an official firearm.
Garda Harrison makes serious claims about how the drunk driving case was struck out of court on dubious rulings and how evidence relating to the case was stolen by a member of the Garda.
He also claims that a member of the Garda of officer rank stationed in the Westmeath division prevented successful prosecution of individuals in a number of cases.
On Monday, I met with Garda Harrison again. At that meeting there was also Garda Nicky Kehoe, who is another serving Garda whistleblower, and who has made serious claims in regard to the connection of a major heroin dealer in the Midlands and a senior member of the drugs unit.
Both those serving gardaí at that meeting were joined by former garda and prominent whistleblower, John Wilson, who is advising both men. I also invited our justice spokesperson, Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, to attend which he did.
At that meeting copies of sworn affidavits were given to me from both gardaí. Garda Harrison claims that he had suspicions about a member of the Garda who was working within the drugs unit who may have been knowingly allowing the sale and supply of drugs within the Athlone district and that he had raised this with management, but he claims that it fell on deaf ears.
At that meeting I was also presented with a written record of a meeting between Garda Nicky Kehoe and a civilian who has come forward in recent days who corroborates the claims that have been made by Garda Kehoe in regard to heroin dealing and a member of the Garda.
Readers may also wish to note a story which was in The Sunday Times yesterday, by John Mooney.
The article (above) concerned an internal investigation which, effectively, substantiated some of Garda Kehoe’s claims in relation to Garda collusion in heroin dealing in the Midlands.
Further to this…
Readers may also wish to recall separate claims made by another Garda whistleblower, Jack Doyle, about gardai colluding with drug dealers.
Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace told the Dáil on May 15, 2014:
One such story comes from a former garda called Jack Doyle. His story gained some attention around 2000. He revealed some serious drug involvement by gardaí in the Cork area and at the time the Garda authorities confirmed that undercover gardaí had been involved in the importation of illegal drugs into the State in what they described as controlled operations.
However, a spokesman said that these operations were necessary in order to bring the leaders of criminal drug gangs to justice. Garda management rejected calls for an inquiry into claims made by Jack Doyle, saying nothing inappropriate had occurred.
We got a 27-page report from Jack Doyle into the background to what went on. I will read less than a page of it. He was speaking with one of the drug runners with whom he had become acquainted:
He recounted to me how they had many opportunities to arrest the boss of the criminal gang but failed to do so. When asked why, he replied, “They have a senior garda in their pocket.” He then recounted an incident in Rosslare when he was returning with a shipment of drugs. A customs officer stopped him and was about to search his jeep when two plain-clothes gardaí commandeered the jeep and drove out of the terminal at speed, being pursued by customs officers. A high-speed chase ensued and the gardaí lost their pursuers. As a result of this incident he said he would never personally bring drugs in again.
He then proceeded to tell me about the many runs he had done, bringing in cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and firearms. Massive amounts of drugs were coming in and quantities were allowed to get into the hands of the criminal gang. He told me how he was being well looked after financially by both the criminal gang and the gardaí.
“He then went on to tell me where he had left a handgun in a wooden area in Cork. He contacted a particular detective sergeant and told him of the location, and drawing a map in the area pinpointed it. On finding the location, two gardaí threw in a number of firearms to beef up the find. He explained that the press reported it as a subversive arms find. When I asked him why they would do this, he replied, “To further their careers in the force.”
Their careers have progressed and one of them is now an assistant commissioner. He was appointed by the former Minister, Deputy Shatter, and this same individual was involved in the Boylan case which entails a very similar story to Jack Doyle’s.
Jack Doyle’s career did not progress. He turned up at his place of work one day and was told, “Jack, you’re not coming in here. You’d better go home. You’re finished, Jack. But, listen, you’ll be grand; we’ll look after your pension.” He was forcibly retired. That one of the gardaí involved is now an assistant commissioner – he could actually be the next Commissioner – emphasises how important it is that the new Commissioner should come from outside the State with a new hierarchy built around him or her as otherwise problems will not go away.
In addition, in December 2014, Mr Wallace spoke at a Banter evening, saying the following:
…[Jack Doyle] watched drugs being taken off boats and gardai supervised the offloading of them. He went to his chief superintendent and told him the story and he was told, ‘oh god, you better go to Dublin with that story’.
He went to Dublin with the story and, the following week, he told his story in Phoenix Park. He went back home the next day and he turned up for work and a guard blocked his way into the garda station and said to him, ‘oh jaysus, Jack, you don’t work here’. [Jack said] ‘what do you mean?’ [Garda said] ‘Jack, it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine, it’s all over, it’s all over but listen everything will be taken care of, you’ll get your redundancy, the whole lot.’
He never worked for the guards again. I brought that story to the Dáil twice in the last 12 months but it hasn’t, you haven’t seen it because it hasn’t been covered by the media. And there’s a lot of other stories.
There’s a number of cases where guards take, they capture drugs. We know of a case where drugs were coming in, maybe five suitcases of cocaine might come in and it would be organised to let four through, the guards would catch one suitcase with some chaps that would be heading off in one direction with the suitcase. Their leader was never caught.
And the suitcase they would catch, they would bring it and there’d be a big show and the media would be brought down to show, ‘oh, there was a big drugs find yesterday and here’s all the stuff’.
The stuff goes back in a box and fellas have come to us and told us that they were dealing in drugs, they were caught by the cops, they weren’t turned in and the cop says, ‘we’ll be back to ya’. They come back two weeks later and say, ‘here, sell this for us and bring us back the money’. There’s a good bit of that going on.
Listen back to RTÉ’s This Week item here
Previously: Meanwhile, In The Dáil
The Wrong Side Of The Thin Blue Line
Pic: Trevor McBride/Irish Mirror