Belfast Telegraph

Garda faces third major corruption probe in a decade

By Ed Carty and Brian Hutton

The Republic's police force is staring down the barrel of a third major corruption inquiry in just over a decade after a whistleblower sergeant was vindicated in a six-year battle.

A Justice Minister, some of the top brass in the force and its official watchdog have all been criticised for failing to properly investigate allegations of rogue and sloppy policing.

Among the disturbing complaints reported to authorities over the last five years – but inadequately acted on – are investigations into an attempted rape, child abduction, false imprisonment of a girl and child pornography.

An eight-week review of the claims found that no official body was prepared to accept the word of the highly regarded officer.

Sergeant Maurice McCabe, who risked his life and his career to expose the catalogue of failures, has now been held up as a respected and dedicated police officer.

"No complex organisation can expect to succeed in its task if it cannot find the means of heeding the voice of a member whose immediate supervisors hold him in the high regard in which Sgt McCabe was held," the report said.

The 300-page review concludes with the damning indictment that Sgt McCabe was left isolated by the Garda force, the Justice Minister and the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission.

A judge-led tribunal will be set up to review the affair which has dogged the Irish Government and the Garda for months and this week led to the resignation of Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Without any findings on the veracity of the corruption claims, the Irish Government has already moved to plan for an independent police authority to work with the Garda Ombudsman and Garda Inspectorate to oversee the force.

Newly-appointed Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald declined to say she had confidence in the top civil servant in her department, Brian Purcell, after the report was published.

"The secretary general of my department will ensure that the handling of complaints received by the department meets with best practice in receiving and responding to complaints," she said.

Ms Fitzgerald said the force would undergo root and branch reform if needed.

Following his probe, barrister Sean Guerin urged the Government to focus on the 12 major McCabe allegations in the statutory inquiry.

The most serious is the Garda handling of murderer Jerry McGrath, from Dundrum, Co Tipperary, who was twice released on bail, first for an assault and then over an attempted abduction, before he went on to kill Sylvia Roche Kelly in a hotel in Limerick in 2007.

Others include the Garda investigations into several public order incidents and a possible sex assault in Co Cavan in 2007.

It also recommends a probe into how the Garda chief, former Commissioner Martin Callinan, who quit in March, and Mr Shatter, who resigned on Wednesday, dealt with the disturbing concerns flagged up to them.

Belfast Telegraph


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