Senior Garda in Donegal sought ‘independent investigation’ into Gda. Harrison

 

The senior Garda officer in Donegal has told the Charleton tribunal she wanted Gardai to be seen to be acting in a "clear and transparent" manner in investigating allegations made against whistleblower Garda Keith Harrison.

Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn has told the tribunal that following the Morris tribunal, there was a lack of confidence in policing in Donegal, and she didn't want the division to investigate one of it's own people, so she sought "an independent investigation, to be clear and transparent."

Chief Superintendent McGinn told the Tribunal that she was on maternity leave when Garda Harrison transferred to Donegal in 2011 and that she first met Garda Harrison in Ballyshannon in Autumn 2011.

The witness said that in October 2013, she had "a confidence issue" about Garda Harrison's ability to carry out his functions as a garda.

The Chief Superintendent said that she was not on duty when a statement was taken from Marisa Simms on October 6th 2013 and did not learn about it until she came back on duty on Monday 7 October she then said she appointed Inspector Goretti Sheridan to look into the reports at the end of September 2013.

On 8 October, a garda conference was held and a decision was made for the statement to be referred to GSOC under Section 102 of the Garda Siochana Act and as children were alleged to have witnessed an incident, Tusla was also notified.

The Chief Superintendent said this might not have been appropriate, and a referral under Section 85 might have been more suitable, but gardaí were obliged to refer the statement either way.

After GSOC closed their file on Garda Harrison, having decided that it was not a Section 102 case, and Ms Simms said she did not wish to make a Section 85 complaint, the chief Superintendent asked Northern Region assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny if he could appoint a superintendent from outside the Donegal division to investigate the allegations in Ms Simms statement.

In correspondence at the time to the Human Resources section in Garda HQ, Chief Supt McGinn said she had "severe reservations as to Garda Harrison's continued employment", and was considering suspension pending completion of the investigation.

In response, the Human Resources department advised that Garda Harrison should be confined to indoor duties.