The new Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland met for the first time.
At a media briefing, when asked about calls for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to stand down, head of the commission Kathleen O’Toole – who was on the panel which appointed Ms O’Sullivan to Garda Commissioner in 2014 – said:
“I don’t think it would make a difference whether it was Nóirín O’Sullivan or someone else. I think this management team inherited a poison chalice. And I think we need to get beyond the finger-pointing and the name-calling. We want to look to the future.”
Further to this…
During Leaders’ Questions, taken by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace spoke about Ms O’Toole’s comments and, later, revisited the protected disclosure made by whistleblower Garda Nick Keogh.
Readers will recall how Garda Keogh, in May 2014, as a member of the drugs squad in Athlone, made a formal complaint to the then confidential recipient Judge Pat McMahon about a garda in the drugs squad and their alleged involvement in the supply of heroin in Westmeath, Offaly and Longford.
Garda Keogh also claimed a State mobile phone was supplied by a senior garda to a suspended garda whom Garda Keogh alleged had links to the drugs trade in Co Westmeath.
In November 2014, Mr Wallace told the Dail that since Garda Keogh had made his complaint, he had been subjected to constant harassment by senior management, manufactured complaints were made against him, and his activities were monitored. In December 2015, Garda Keogh went on sick leave.
In 2016, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported that an internal investigation found evidence to substantiate “many” of Garda Keogh’s claims.
However, Garda Keogh still has to see any report of this investigation and it’s understood none has been published.
In addition, Mr Mooney reported that the DPP told Garda Headquarters that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those implicated, but that a senior garda and a drugs squad garda in Athlone would face disciplinary proceedings.
Readers may also recall how, in January of this year, GSOC requested to oversee the disciplinary investigation of the two gardai but Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan refused GSOC’s request.
From today’s Leaders’ Questions…
Mick Wallace: “Tánaiste, yesterday Kathleen O’Toole confirmed the suspicion of many, that the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is a fig leaf to divert attention away from the crises in Garda management. She said that their task is not to scrutinise the performance of individuals and that Garda management inherited a poison chalice. What she forgot to tell us is that the present commissioner was part of the poison when she got the job in 2014. Why did they appoint someone that was part of the problem?”
“Head of GSOC [Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission] Mary Ellen Ring said last week, I would have thought you could have this commission done and dusted by December the 1st, if they just sat down and read the [Garda] Inspectorate’s reports and that there was no guarantee that the report delivered by the Commission on the Future of Policing in September 2018 would be acted upon.”
“As the head of the Garda Inspectorate Robert Olsen, previous reforms identified had not been implemented. No one, he said, had made the change happen. In the last few weeks, things have got so bad at Garda Headquarters that a decision was made to grant a barrister and junior counsel to both the Commissioner and her most senior Assistant Commissioner, at the expense of the State. They can’t even be in the same room without being lawyered up.”
“As a result of the failure to resolve issues around the complaints made by the same Assistant Commissioner, including interference in the interview process for the Commissioner’s job back in 2014. Despite the expenditure of tens of thousands in consultancy payments to a company to investigate the issue – a job that was never tendered.”
“Interestingly, that same interview panel that trawled the world before deciding that Noirin O’Sullivan was the best person to replace Martin Callinan, involved not only Josephine Feehily, who in her role as head of the Policing Authority has failed to recommend the removal of the Commissioner; Kathleen O’Toole, who yesterday indicated that she wanted to take the heat off Noirin; but also Vivienne Jupp, a former executive of global management consultancy Accenture, a company which benefited from multi-million euro contracts with An Garda Siochana.”
“Vivienne Jupp was also instrumental in establishing Cyril Dunne as Chief Administrative Officer inside An Garda Siochana who was among the first to be made aware of the Templemore scandal.
“Yesterday, the outgoing Taoiseach said if a minister were in charge of a calamity, like that in the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement, they’d be immediately sacked. Tanaiste, you might find yourself heading up a different department in a few weeks time, the present commissioner has given more than enough proof that she is not the person to bring An Garda Siochana forward.”
“Minister, Tanaiste, this might be your last few weeks in justice, would you not consider doing what needs to be done in the best interests of An Garda Siochana because the legislation allows for you to remove the commissioner when it is in the best interests of An Garda Siochana and it certainly would be.”
“The house that is known as An Garda Siochana is falling down around her ears. While scandals, which can only be described as white collar crime continue to escalate around Templemore, at the other end of the scale, the plot thickens around the Garda involvement in the heroin trade in Athlone.
“On the 19th of May, 2017, presiding Circuit Court judge Keelan Johnson expressed his displeasure, annoyance and frustration at being seriously misled by a garda. The judge outlined, in public, in open court, that, on the 7th of June, 2016, while sentencing a woman on drug offences, committed on the 2nd of June, 2015, a garda purposefully, and deliberately misled him and the court.”
“The same drugs operation, for which other gardai have been found to have had an involvement in, as a result of the protected disclosure of Garda Nick Keogh three years ago, yet, nobody’s been arrested, nobody’s been charged, three years later. Why? Because some of Noirin’s inner circle are being protected.”
Previously: A Breathtaking Timeline