Tag Archives: Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

On Thursday, May 9 last, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris appeared before the Public Accounts Committee.

During his appearance, he was asked about the case of female civilian guard Lynn Margiotta.

Ms Margiotta is seeking an inquiry into how she was treated by her employer after she made a verbal complaint of bullying against a Garda member.

Michael Clifford, in The Irish Examiner, has previously reported how Lynn Margiotta and her brother Dr Tony Margiotta ended up before a judge in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in March over sick notes she produced to her employer – An Garda Síochána – saying she was unfit to work.

Ms Margiotta was arrested at her home in Navan, Co Meath, by three gardai from her own station, Store Street Garda Station, on August 11, 2014 – three weeks after she made the bullying complaint.

She was told she was under arrest for fraud.

It had been the prosecution’s case that Ms Margiotta had obtained the sick notes by deception as Dr Tony Margiotta had used the stamp of other GPs on the sick notes.

However, almost five years later, the case against Ms Margiotta collapsed on March 26, 2019, after Judge Patricia Ryan ruled her rights had been abused as she had been denied access to a solicitor while in custody, and her privacy breached as her medical records had been accessed without her consent.

The case against her brother Dr Margiotta – who worked between two practices in 2014 and was a locum in one of the practices – was also dropped.

Today, Mr Clifford, in The Irish Examiner, reports that early on in the Garda investigation, an expert in GP stamps, Professor Colin Bradley, of University College Cork, carried out a report on the matter for the gardaí.

This report was completed on February 8, 2015 and outlined there was no requirement for doctors to use their own stamp and, furthermore, locums are likely to use stamps of other doctors.

Despite this, Lynn Margiotta was arrested a second time in September 2015, while her and her brother were arrested at their homes without notice in June 2017, and charged.

On February 6, 2019, the siblings’ solicitors obtained the Bradley report during the discovery process for their trial – after they chose to contest the charges and the matter was elevated to the Circuit Criminal Court [the DPP had agreed to allow the matter be dealt with in the District Court had they pleaded guilty].

Further to this…

Mr Clifford reports this morning:

In evidence at the PAC on May 9, Mr Harris said there was no record of a bullying complaint in the case.

“None can be found,” he told David Cullinane TD.

However, the Irish Examiner has learned that Ms Margiotta did make a verbal complaint, setting in train a process that would lead to a formal written complaint.

As per public sector policy, there was due to be a meeting to attempt mediation in the issue, but before the meeting could take place, she was arrested over the alleged false sick notes.

This information was conveyed to the Garda Press Office on Monday, for a response in relation to Mr Harris’ evidence, but no response was given.

Separately, the commissioner also appeared to give the PAC the impression that the case was being investigated by the Garda Ombudsman (Gsoc).

Mr Cullinane asked the commissioner if he was of a mind to “personally examine the elements of the case that are in the public domain”.

The commissioner responded: “That is also the subject of a public complaint to Gsoc. The material we are putting together is for its information and I have to wait for it to make its recommendations.”

According to a spokesperson, Gsoc is not currently investigating any aspect of the case that it understands was being referred to at the PAC.

In response to a question on this matter, the Garda Press Office replied that the commissioner was referring to a complaint from 2016.

In fact, the 2016 complaint, a copy of which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, referred to leaks to the media about Ms Margiotta’s arrest.

This was completed without resolution by Gsoc in November 2017.

Garda Commissioner’s evidence over prosecution of civilian employee raises questions (Michael Clifford, The Irish Examiner)

Garda boss Harris risks walking into a seamy mess over civilian prosecution case (Michael Clifford, The Irish Examiner)

Previously: Malingering Odours

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris addressing the conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in Cavan yesterday

This morning.

RTÉ’s Morning Ireland broadcast an interview its crime correspondent Paul Reynolds carried out with the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at the AGSI conference in Cavan.

It followed Mr Reynolds reporting that one of An Garda Síochána’s members is being investigated by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations for allegedly engaging in “outside security work”, which is not permitted.

Mr Reynolds previously reported that false alarms were allegedly set off at a business and these were responded to by gardaí, in patrol cars, and these false alarms were then reported on the Garda PULSE system.

Mr Harris said he couldn’t speak of the specifics of the case as the matter is being investigated.

Mr Reynolds put it to Mr Harris:

“But you are known and have taken a very strong stand on discipline. I mean, and there has been criticisms of your stance at this conference [AGSI] of the fact that even though allegations have been levelled against individuals, that have not been proven, you have prevented people from being promoted.”

Mr Harris said each case is examined on its merits and he’s examined a number of cases and people have been promoted.

He said others have been delayed until he has received more facts.

Meanwhile, separately…

Anyone?

Listen back in full here

Yesterday: Malingering Odours

Previously: “False Alarms”

From top: Garda HQ in Phoenix Park; Paul Williams and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

“What we know so far is that the specially adapted Range Rover, belonging to the PSNI’s close protection team, was delivering Drew Harris to the Phoenix Park following a visit to the North on Monday, 25 March.The Northern vehicle was driving in convoy behind an ERU vehicle that met the escort at the Border.

After the ERU vehicle drove in, the quick-thinking garda on sentinel duty was alarmed.

After all, she had spotted an unknown Northern-registered car driving towards the gates and immediately moved to activate the security bollard which is designed to prevent a suspect vehicle entering the complex.

…Drew Harris is still very much settling into his role as commissioner and his relationship with many of his top management staff is described as purely professional.

But despite any initial embarrassment about the actual incident, Mr Harris should in fact be congratulating the garda on the gate for her quick, clear-headed reaction to an alarming situation.”

Paul Williams, Irish Independent this morning

However…

“There was no security incident at Garda HQ on 25 March 2019. A newly installed bollard malfunctioned and caught the underside of the vehicle the Commissioner was travelling in. This happened at a walking pace. No vehicles were flipped.

The malfunction was quickly fixed and vehicular traffic went in and out of Garda HQ as normal that day. As per our previous statement, normal movement procedures were followed in relation to the Commissioner.”

Garda Press Office statement this afternoon.

Someone’s flipping fibbing.

YOU must decide.

Yesterday: What The Flip Is Going On?

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris arriving at Leinster House  to attend a Justice Commitee hearing last September

Following reports that Garda Commissioner Drew Harris’s unmarked 4×4 with heavily armed PSNI detectives on board was flung into the air at the gates of Garda HQ in Phoenix Park after a Garda on  duty activated a security bollard…

“Gardai and the Irish Defence Forces are the only service permitted to carry fire arms in the republic. That’s where the law is.

There are exceptions in some cases. Regrettably Drew Harris could be a target because of his former membership of the PSNI/RUC and his connections to the British security forces. Every care has to be taken with his protection. Measures for his security must be taken in a legal and proportional and appropriate way.

It is not standard operating procedure that an armed PSNI escort would travel to Garda headquarters to protect the Commissioner of An Garda Siochana. The officers concerned have no authority to carry firearms.”

Retired Detective Chief Superintendent John O’Brien on RTÉ Radio One dismissing the Garda’s explanation that a PSNI jeep with armed police bringing the Commissioner into the Republic was “normal procedure”.

‘Not normal procedure’ for PSNI officers to carry guns into Republic of Ireland, former top cop says after Garda HQ crash (irish Mirror)

PSNI escort for Harris to Dublin ‘most unusual’ decision (Irish Times)

Rollingnews


Lucia and Jim O’Farrell with their daughters outside Garda HQ this morning; Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

This morning, at 11.30am, the family of the late Shane O’Farrell will meet with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at Garda HQ in Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Shane was 23 and cycling home when he was killed in a hit-and-run in Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan by Zigimantus Gridziuska, from Lithuania, on August 2, 2011.

At the time of Shane’s death, Gridziuska had 42 previous convictions and he was in breach of multiple bail orders and suspended sentences.

In addition, about an hour before Shane was killed, the Garda Drugs Squad pulled over the car Gridziuska was travelling in, along with Paulius Paplauskas/Petrosas and Edgars Zelenousy, on suspicion that they had drugs in their possession.

Zelenousy was driving the car when it was pulled over. The O’Farrell family understand the gardaí asked the men to get out of the car, searched them and then got Zelenousy to switch with Gridziuska, thus resulting in Gridziuska being behind the wheel. Zelenousy had no insurance.

The car was then waved on.

Following Shane’s death, Gridziuska was arrested and the car he was driving was found concealed in bushes.

He was eventually acquitted of dangerous driving causing death.

He pleaded guilty to failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of the crash and he received an eight-month suspended sentence on February 28, 2013, on condition that he leave the country within 21 days.

Judge Pat McCartan, at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin, gave Gridziuska the choice of serving the eight months or leaving the country and he chose the latter.

During the sentencing of Gridzisuka, Shane’s mum Lucia O’Farrell claims Judge McCartan asked if there was anything coming up in the pipeline for Gridziuska and that the State solicitor failed to notify the judge that – over the five months before Gridziuska’s trial – a file had been prepared in relation to insurance fraud charges against Gridziuska.

Ms O’Farrell repeatedly requested for this file to be compiled and completed so that it could be included in the proceedings of the case of dangerous driving causing death.

But it wasn’t.

On March 1, 2013 – one day after Gridziuska dangerous driving trial finished – the file on Gridziuska’s insurance fraud was submitted to the DPP.

Then on March 6, 2013 – just days after he was ordered to leave the State within 21 days – Gridziuska appeared in Carrickmacross District Court for insurance fraud and he was jailed for five months by Judge Sean MacBride in relation to three policies of insurance fraud, one of which covered the day on which Shane was killed.

Judge MacBride also banned him from driving for ten years.

On June 14 last, a motion was accepted in the Dail calling on the Government to establish a public inquiry into Shane’s death but such an inquiry has yet to be established.

On the same day, in the Seanad, the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan admitted:

“It is clear there are a number of troubling matters surrounding the circumstances leading up to the road traffic incident in which Shane O’Farrell’s life was cut tragically short. The GSOC report clearly identifies those matters.

“They were, in fact, failures. In the debate in the other House last Tuesday, I was emphatic that I accepted that they were failures. A man, who had numerous previous convictions, including for theft, drugs and road traffic offences, and who was on bail at the time of the incident, had also been arrested for other offences while on bail.

“We all know there are laws related to the obligations on those who obtain release on bail and there are sanctions if those bail conditions are breached. Unfortunately in this particular case those sanctions were not implemented and there was a failing.

“…The failings in the follow-up following a breach of a bail condition is unacceptable.”

Ahead of her meeting with the Garda Commissioner this morning, Lucia writes:

“Gridziuska would have been in jail if the gardai had done their basic duty, in accordance of the orders of various courts. Bail had no legal meaning for Gridziuska or the gardai. We are seven years with no answers and no accountability.”

Previously: Shane O’Farrell on Broadsheet

Pic: Conor Hunt

This afternoon.

Kevin Street Garda Station, Dublin

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan launching  ‘Policing Service for the Future’, a “four-year high-level implementation plan” which includes a new oversight body do away with the Policing Authority and the Garda Inspectorate.

Earlier: ‘A New Strategic Threat Analysis Centre’

Meanwhile…

Stop that.

Rollingnews

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (left)and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

Further to yesterday’s Sunday Times report which outlined how the state plans to cover former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s legal costs in an action taken by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe..

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the representation being offered to the former Commissioner is standard practice.

“As a former State employee who is being sued in the course of his work it is the norm for the State to offer representation for him,” said Mr Varadkar.

“That is not to say that he is being given an indemnity or anything like that, it is representation as regards the case.”

Normal practice for State to provide lawyers for Martin Callinan, says Varadkar (Irish Examiner)

Earlier…

According to senior sources, Mr Harris is seeking his own legal advice on the matter of Mr Callinan’s legal costs in light of the tribunal’s damning findings against the former commissioner.

Mr Harris is seeking advice on whether to he is bound by the decision of Mr Ó Cualáin to recommend that the State fund Mr Callinan’s defence. Depending on the advice, it may be open to him to ask the Minister to reverse his decision.

Garda Commissioner seeks to reverse Callinan’s legal funding (irish Times)

Rollingnews

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and retired Sgt Maurice McCabe

“He did a service for policing, for An Garda Síochána, but policing in Ireland as well. And we’re the stronger for the example that Maurice McCabe has set and stronger for the Charleton Report that’s been delivered.

“I regret that I hadn’t met him before, under, you know, more normal circumstances because I think a lot of his views in policing are the views that I would have held as well.”

The newly appointed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris speaking on Northern Sound radio earlier today.

Garda Commissioner says he shares Maurice McCabe’s views on policing (Northern Sound)

Rollingnews

This morning.

During the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality which is asking questions of the newly appointed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris…

Chair of the committee Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin raised the Justice for the Forgotten group who have been seeking answers about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings from 1974 since the group formed in 1996.

Mr Ó Caoláin asked Mr Harris if he would meet with the group and Mr Harris said he would.

They had this exchange…

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: “You have yourself indicated earlier a willingness to meet with victims and representatives of victims. In this particular incidence, the organisation Justice for the Forgotten very heroically led, I may say, by a lady known as Margaret Irwin. Can I ask will you facilitate an opportunity to meet with Ms Irwin and with victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings? Survivors and bereaved families? There were 33 deaths involved.

“And, you know, in your own position, and unquestionably you’re highly qualified for the position, you’ve undertaken, your experience, being a significant factor in it. But can you because of your previous roles and responsibilities and exposure. Can you bring something more to the call, the wish and, you know, despite the passage of time, in 1974, here we are, what 44 years later.

“You know, that cry for truth and for justice in relation to those particular atrocities hasn’t faded.

Can you, in your experience, knowledge of contact and communication et al, can you offer any hope for a better position than maintains currently where, even as Deputy Commissioner John Twomey has indicated, this is not an area that there has been a communications flow, something that we all too sadly know very well.”

Drew Harris: “These atrocities are now my responsibility to investigate. So I think the preface and comments in that regard, I’m very much aware of my responsibilities around these. And if I might take time then, to consider your questions and then come back to you on where we are at this point in time.

“Your earlier question about meeting with the group, Justice for the Forgotten, yes, of course, yes, I will meet with them.

“The only, when you say about, hope for individuals, I think I have to temper that remark. My experience of trying to investigate these matters, legacy matters as they are now called, has been one of frustration that very little is achieved through the criminal justice route.

“And so I will meet with them, I will consider the points that you’ve made and will respond to those but these cases have proved, down through the years, to be incredibly difficult actually to in effect bring to a successful criminal justice conclusion.”

“One may able to find other information which is new, it’s very rare that that leads to criminal justice actual ending to this.”

Ó Caoláin: “Well in this particular instance, and I close with this, in this particular instance, it’s that information held long past has not been forthcoming and this has been repeated time after time by those entrusted with the exercise of investigation and inquiry. And in reflection of that failure to cooperate, on the part of the British Government and all its agencies, including the RUC, in its time, in terms of proffering, presenting what information it could share in relation to those particular events of that day back in May 1974. There is that significant issue.

“So I appreciate your reply.”

Earlier: “Utmost Serious”

This morning.

Newly appointed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is answering questions at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, following Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton’s report on the Disclosures Tribunal.

Further to this…

Irish Examiner reports:

The Garda Commissioner says he is open to whistleblowers in the force and would treat those coming forward with the utmost seriousness.

…”If any individual in the organisation wishes to come forward and wishes, in effect, to whistleblow or to make a disclosure then that will be treated with the utmost seriousness,” he said.

“I am open to individuals should they wish to speak to me in terms of being whistleblowers.”

The meeting’s proceedings can be watched live above.

Latest: Garda Commissioner would treat whistleblowers with ‘utmost seriousness’ (Irish Examiner)

Previously: Legal Coffee Drinker: The Charleton Report – Conclusions

UPDATE: