In case you missed this.
Damien McCarthy, spokesman for the Garda Representative Association, spoke to Keelin Shanley on RTÉ Radio One yesterday morning in relation to the Cooke Report, which investigated claims that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission was under surveillance.
His interview followed a meeting of members of the GRA in Dublin – which represents about 1,000 gardaí – during which they proposed a motion of no confidence in the three commissioners of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, saying Simon O’Brien, Kieran Fitzgerald and Carmel Foley should step down with immediate effect.
Mr McCarthy said, contrary to many reports, the Cooke Report did find evidence or instances of GSOC being under surveillance but that this evidence wasn’t investigated adequately, if at all.
He also said questions remain.
Katie Hannon, from RTÉ’s Prime Time, also took part in the discussion.
Keelin Shanley: “Damien, what’s your problem with them?”
Damien McCarthy: “Well we’ve discussed this morning, and indeed over the last number of weeks, the fall-out from the much-publicised and commented Cooke Report. We firmly believe that, as a result, in particular for appearances by the entire Commission at two meetings of the Public Service Oversight and Petitions meetings of July 13, 2013 and indeed the most recent one of the 12th of February, 2014 – that the accounts given by the commissioners – at those meetings where these questions were asked by TDs and Senators, didn’t give an accurate picture of what happened throughout the course of an investigation into allegations of garda misconduct.”
Shanley: “I suppose Damien, a lot of people listening would say ‘well, you would say that, wouldn’t ya?’ Nobody expects the gardaí to like GSOC. Is it really your role here to express your confidence or lack of confidence in them at all. It’s…they’re there to investigate you.”
McCarthy: “Well, first and foremost, the GRA and the DMR South Central, one of the largest Garda divisions in the country, have no difficulty with the concept of independent oversight and there has to be a clear, transparent and fair procedure when allegations of wrongdoing are being investigated. What happened here was a highly publicised incident which garda, indeed from Pearse Street , Kevin Street and the regional traffic unit in Dublin Castle, were absolutely appalled in the manner in which the investigation was conducted and the glaringly obvious questions and scenarios developed which were not definitively and properly investigated. And the Commission were in charge of that investigation. They opened it, they closed it. And, as a result of what happened after, throughout a 50-page transcript that we discussed today and last week, was there any questions asked of GSOC in relation to bugging. They were asked specifically was there internal or external surveillance. And we’ve now discovered, as a result of Mr Cooke’s investigation, there was white vans parked outside the Ombudsman’s office, there was men whom were inside, in the coffee shop, in close proximity, allegedly surveying the building. Did anyone ask for one second who was in that van? Did it have a registration plate? Was CCTV footage stored? Secured? And viewed for the purpose of a detailed investigation? And, indeed most bizarrely, two investigators who were in Dublin Airport who met, in a secure location, were allegedly photographed by somebody surveilling them. Was that CCTV footage secured?
Shanley: “Damien, just to understand your point, the fact that people didn’t take a photograph of the reg plate, they didn’t get photographs, is this why you don’t have confidence in them? Is this what you’re saying?”
McCarthy: “These are simple errors that appear to have been made and questions that remain…”
Shanley: “Sure, everybody makes mistakes, we know for a fact that the guards have made plenty of mistakes over the years. I mean isn’t there a key question here about the lack of cooperation from the gardaí with GSOC. I mean with the case of Kieran Boylan, there were clear allegations that the guards had not cooperated with GSOC. They can’t do their job if you won’t talk to them.”
McCarthy: “I reject in totality the notion that guards from DMR South Central did not cooperate with members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission – these were glaringly obvious questions that haven’t been answered. And throughout a number of hours, where the commission – the entire commission – were present at an Oireachtas committee, there was no mention of these glaringly obvious issues of surveillance when they were asked quite specifically. Simon O’Brien was asked was his building under surveillance and there was no definitive evidence. Quite clearly, from Mr Cooke’s findings, there was evidence of surveillance and what was done with that evidence, it appears there was nothing done. Day in, day out, we cooperate fully with all aspects of investigations, both of a criminal and discipline nature and if gardaí were involved in this kind of investigation, they would probably find themselves before a discipline inquiry for neglect of duty.”Continue reading →