Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

Lawyers for former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan ask tribunal to drop phone call probe due to lack of evidence

Lawyers for former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan have asked the Disclosures Tribunal to drop its inquiry into an allegation she instructed officers to “pull away from” and “alienate” a Garda whistleblower.

Her legal team made the application, saying there was “no evidential basis” for the claim by Garda Nick Keogh.

The tribunal’s latest module  is probing allegations Gda Keogh was targeted or discredited by senior officers after making a protected disclosure alleging collusion between a  Garda colleague and an Athlone heroin dealer.

READ MORE: Former Garda commissioner denies urging officers to ‘alienate’ drugs collusion whistleblower

The O’Sullivan allegation was among 22 separate issues the tribunal said it would be examining in its latest module.

However, it emerged on Monday that one of those issues, a claim by Garda Keogh that his phone may have been tapped by gardaí, will not be pursued.

In a letter, Gda Keogh’s lawyers said the allegation was “virtually impossible to prove” and would be a waste of the tribunal’s time.

At the end of the hearing, counsel for An Garda Síochána, Shane Murphy SC, claimed the situation regarding the allegation against Ms O’Sullivan was “akin” to that regarding the phone tapping allegation.

Garda Keogh alleges he was told Ms O’Sullivan telephoned his superintendent, Patrick Murray, in April 2015 and that afterwards the superintendent told other guards to pull away from and alienate him.

However, Ms O’Sullivan’s position is that the phone call never took place and that the allegation is “completely untrue”, while Supt Murray has said he never spoke to Ms O’Sullivan about Gda Keogh.

The tribunal heard Gda Keogh had no direct evidence of the call, but says he was told about it by guards in his station. He initially declined to name his source, but later said it was Sergeant Andrew Haran.

However, in a statement to the tribunal, Sgt Haran said: “I didn’t tell Gda Keogh of any telecommunications between the commissioner and Supt Pat Murray.”

Mr Murphy said the tribunal was “stuck in a situation” where Gda Keogh’s perception and beliefs were the only evidence being put forward.

He said in the circumstances he was asking the tribunal to consider not proceeding any further with the allegation.

Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Sean Ryan said he wondered about the fairness of putting the allegation to the former commissioner.

Matthias Kelly QC, for Gda Keogh, said he would need to seek instruction on the issue, which is expected to be discussed again on Wednesday.

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