Tag Archives: Drew Harris


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:

From top: 34 Frederick Street North, Dublin last night; Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

This afternoon.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has released a statement in regards to the removal of housing activists from 34 Frederick Street North, Dublin 1 last night – which the group says involved “over disproportionate and unaccountable tactics”.

They write:

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is today demanding answers from An Garda Síochána over the tactics used during an eviction of housing rights activists from a building at North Frederick Street in Dublin’s North Inner City last night.

ICCL is calling for a swift public report from the Garda Commissioner regarding the Gardaí’s decision-making in advance of last night’s operation, and the reasons for and circumstances of the arrests and alleged injuries sustained by protesters.

Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the ICCL said:

ICCL has been highlighting the lack of transparency regarding the Gardaí’s policies and tactics in the areas of protest policing and use of force. We are calling on the Garda Commissioner to provide answers about what decisions were taken in advance of, and during, last night’s operation.

We want to know: what was the legal basis for the Garda operation? Was it on request of the owner? What are the protocols for such requests? Was there engagement with the occupiers in advance of the Garda operation? What consideration was there of the need to use minimal force? What was the basis for the arrests?

ICCL demands answers from Gardaí over disproportionate and unaccountable tactics used at North Frederick Street eviction (Irish Council for Civil Liberties)

Meanwhile…

“What we have seen raises concerns about possible excessive and unnecessary use of force against what appear to be largely peaceful protestors. Whenever the lawful use of force by An Garda Síochána is unavoidable, it must be used with restraint and in proportion to the seriousness of the law enforcement objective.

Gardaí should only facilitate and support the actions of private security personnel where they are lawful and do not involve excessive force. In this regard, it is of concern that the private security personnel reportedly failed to display identity badges, as required under section 30 of the Private Security Services Act.

We urge that these events be investigated as a matter of urgency to ascertain if human rights abuses were committed, and if so, ensure appropriate action.”

Fiona Crowley, Research and Legal Manager for Amnesty International Ireland this afternoon.

Earlier: Second-Hand Import?

How Can You Justify These Actions?

Yesterday: What’s Going On Here?

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews





This afternoon.

Templemore, County Tipperary.

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan with new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at Mr Harris’ first garda graduation ceremony since his appointment, at the Garda College.

Via Independent.ie:

Mr Harris explained what he meant by “operationally honest”.

He said the gardai must act in the best interests of the public, be upfront with people and treat everyone they met with respect, dignity and empathy.

“We will ensure that this happens internally as well. We must respect and listen to our people.

Any ideas of on how we can improve, regardless of where they come from, should always be welcomed.

“Similarly, we will be more receptive to constructive criticism, whether it comes from inside or outside the organisation”, Mr Harris added.

New Garda Commissioner tells 185 fresh recruits they must ‘be honest (Indpendent.ie)

Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews

 

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This morning.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris held his first press conference at Garda HQ in Phoenix Park where he outlined his vision for the gardai.

During the press conference, Mr Harris told RTÉ’s Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds that he wouldn’t be afraid to speak truth to power.

This will end well.

Meanwhile…

Yesterday: A Minute Past Midnight

Pics: Cate McCurry and Leah Farrell/Rollingnews


New Garda Commissioner Drew Harris earlier this morning;  Josephine Feehily, chairwoman of the Policing Authority.

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Reynolds interviewed chair of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily, following the swearing in of the new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

During the interview, Mr Reynolds raised Mr Harris’s evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal in 2012.

Judge Smithwick ultimately found there was collusion between members of the gardaí and the IRA in the murders of two senior RUC officers – Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan – on March 20, 1989 and that gardaí in Dundalk were most likely involved.

Mr Harris’s evidence was given to the tribunal in private but it was later read into evidence.

From this morning’s interview…

Paul Reynolds: “Well, what about the concerns in relation to Dundalk, in particular, whereby the evidence that he gave at the Smithwick Tribunal, in relation to Garda collusion. On the one hand, he has given evidence that the gardai colluded with the murders of two senior police officers and, on the other hand, he’s the head of this force.”

Josephine Feehily: “Judge Smithick made the conclusions in that tribunal and I’m not going to go beyond those. He heard all of the evidence, he took account of all of the aspects that he wanted to take and he reached a conclusion. And, again, that seems to be something that’s overlooked in the conversation. It was a judge-led tribunal and the judge drew the conclusion.”

Reynolds: “That’s true but it wasn’t accepted by the Garda Commissioner at the time and it hasn’t been accepted by many gardai today. It remains a sore point in Dundalk and now we have the man who gave that evidence at the top of the Garda force.”

Feehily: “I’m satisfied to rest on Judge Smithick’s conclusions.”

Reynolds: “I accept that but do you see the difficulty?”

Feehily:I see that commentators are taking one particular aspect of policing and they are, before the commissioner has had an opportunity to address it, they’re drawing conclusions. What I’m saying is that the person who heard all of the evidence drew his conclusions, in accordance with his job and they stand.”

The Smithwick Tribunal report can be read here

Listen back in full here

Earlier: A Show Of Force

Ask A Broadsheet Reader

Meanwhile…

Basically they are asking us to believe that in the course of a 30-year campaign the most sophisticated terrorist organisation in the world did not plant or acquire any agents in our security institutions, including the Defence Forces and the Garda.

Justice Peter Smithwick accepted Drew Harris’s evidence that he had intelligence pointing to collusion, not least because Garda intelligence confirmed it.

“I think it significant,” Smithwick concluded, “that both police services have received information from reliable sources indicating that there was collusion.”

Good enough for me.

Time for Leo Varadkar to take stock and make tough decisions (Eoghan Harris, Sunday Independent)

Rollingnews