Garda Keith Harrison
On RTÉ Radio One’s This Week.
John Burke reported that Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison, who lives in Donegal, believes he was placed under surveillance when he went to Galway for a meeting with members of GSOC earlier this year.
Garda Harrison met members of GSOC, which has its headquarters in Dublin, in March to discuss his complaints which were being handled by GSOC.
Mr Burke reported:
“[Following the meeting] on his way back to Donegal, he believed then that, as I understand it, he identified an unmarked Garda car which was following them from Galway back to Donegal which would indicate that they had actually followed them down there also. The complaint was then made to GSOC that, by Garda Harrison’s lawyers, that they believe their client had been followed, that this was a matter of deep concern, if it was the case that a guard who had made a protected disclosure to GSOC was being kept under surveillance whilst attending what should have been, from GSOC’s point of view and the garda’s point of view, a highly confidential meeting with GSOC.”
“An indication of how serious GSOC treat the confidentiality of those meetings is actually outlined in documents which we’ve also seen which show that that meeting was booked via a private travel company using none of the names of the four participants at the meeting to GSOC officials, Garda Harrison and his solicitor. Nobody else, other than those four people, it seems should have known that that meeting was taking place.”
GSOC couldn’t comment on the allegation, RTÉ reported.
You may recall how just under two weeks ago Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly told the Dáil:
Nineteen times myself and Deputy Wallace have raised what has been happening to whistleblowers Nick Keogh and Keith Harrison, who’s out two years surviving on a pittance with a young family. His post has been opened. Garda patrol cars cruising down a lane where he lived 25 kilometres from the nearest Garda station. The HSE called to his kids – all on Commissioner [Nóirín] O’Sullivan’s watch.”
You may also recall how, during her appearance before the Oireachtas joint committee on justice, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan had the following exchange with Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O’Brien:
Nóirín O’Sullivan: “Am I aware of any…”
Jonathan O’Brien: “Whistleblowers being put under surveillance?”
O’Sullivan: “Absolutely not, deputy.”
O’Brien: “Ok, are you aware of any intelligence files being opened in relation to whistleblowers?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, I’m aware of suggestions in the media, and in public commentary, but I am personally not aware.”
O’Brien: “And if there are intelligence files in relation to whistleblowers, will they also be handed over?”
O’Sullivan: “Deputy, I believe there are no intelligence files but if Mr Justice O’Neill requires any access to any area of An Garda Siochana, he will be made fully aware, given full access.”
O’Brien: “Will you undertake to find out if there are any intelligence files in relation to whistleblowers?”
O’Sullivan: “I am not aware of any intelligence files, deputy.”
Readers may also recall how, on April 30, 2014 – at which point former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had already stepped down as Garda Commissioner on March 25 – then Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan told the Dáil that earlier that day he had been to the offices of GSOC on Upper Abbey Street in Dublin 1.
Mr Flanagan said he went to GSOC, with Garda whistleblower John Wilson, because he had been approached under the Garda Síochána Act by a serving member of the Garda with a serious allegation of corruption within the National Drugs Squad.
He told the Dáil that, while they were in an Insomnia café, adjacent to the GSOC offices – the same café whose Bitbuzz wi-fi network was claimed to have caused one of the GSOC ‘bugging’ security issues – Mr Flanagan and Mr Wilson felt they were being followed by an unmarked Garda car.
During his response, Taoiseach Enda Kenny suggested maybe the gardaí thought someone was dealing drugs.
Mr Kenny was asked to withdraw the comment by several TDs, including Independent TD Mattie McGrath, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin and then Independent TD Roisin Shortall, while the then Independent TD Finian McGrath called the remark ‘out of order’.
Mr Kenny did not withdraw the comment.
Listen back in full here
Previously: Protecting Disclosures