Garda Nicholas Keogh at the Disclosures Tribunal today. Pic: Collins
A garda whistleblower has said that the “dogs on the street” knew what was going on in Athlone over alleged Garda collusion with drug dealers.
At the resumption of the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle today chairperson Judge Sean Ryan began hearing evidence of Garda Nicholas Keogh who alleges he was bullied and harassed by his superiors.
Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, questioned Gda Keogh about a May 18, 2014, entry he made into the Pulse system regarding persons identified as Miss B and Garda A. Gda Keogh alleges Ms B was a heroin dealer in Athlone and that Garda A was in an improper relationship with her.
Gda Keogh testified that the “dogs on the street knew what was going on” regarding collusion between gardaí and drug-dealers in the town.
Asked by Judge Ryan if he felt that “in a lot of cases that the small fry were being targeted and that the big fish were being perhaps left off the list”, the witness agreed.
In May 2014, Gda Keogh made an entry on the Garda Pulse system where he said he had observed Ms B smiling and sticking out her tongue when she saw him.
“Ms B is seriously involved in the heroin trade in Athlone with a turnover of approximately €2,500 per week,” the Pulse entry read.
The intelligence entry on the Pulse system led to a series of extensive reports over the following years and the tribunal is to investigate whether this constituted the targeting or discrediting of Garda Keogh, tribunal counsel Patrick Marrinan said.
Gda Keogh claimed to have a DVD of a coercive Garda interview that was carried out on a drug suspect. He further claimed that some witnesses received preferential treatments in Athlone drug cases. He made a protected disclosure on May 8, 2014.
Luke Ming Flanagan, then a TD, named Gda Keogh in the Dáil on that day. Of a meeting in Kinnegad, Gda Keogh said that he told Judge Patrick McMahon, his confidential recipient, “as much as I could about conspiracy to supply heroin” in Athlone.
The information was partly based on information that came from someone then inside the drug industry.
Gda Keogh said that the source was not a paid informant and that he was within his rights not to register them as such on Pulse.
The tribunal is trying to establish whether or not the written and verbal questioning by his superiors over the use of Pulse and his handling of the source amounts to targeting or discrediting him.
Gda Keogh said that he put the matter on Pulse first without making a report on the matter first “as a matter of self-preservation”, so that it was available to be viewed by all gardaí.
“Part of doing that was a matter of survival,” he told the inquiry. “I was a sitting duck [for making the protected disclosure] in the station at that stage and for a month.”
Gda Keogh said he wanted gardaí to know that he wasn’t putting “just any mickey mouse stuff on Pulse” and that this was about “collusion on heroin”.
After being named by Deputy Flanagan in the Dáil, Gda Keogh addressed his unit, telling them it was not about any of them.
Asked if there was not a superior he could trust at the time he said: “when you come forward in the guards, that’s a rare thing to find.”
“I’ve put five hundred [people] on to Garda Intel and not had one question,” said Gda Keogh of why he thought he was now being questioned by his superiors.
Garda Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn investigated the allegation of bullying regarding the Pulse entry and found the requests reasonable.
“I don’t accept anything from Mick Finn’s investigation,” said Gda Keogh, adding that he was under five investigations in the first month since making his protected disclosure.
Separately, an allegation regarding mobile phone tapping will no longer be considered by the tribunal, due to lack of evidence.
On Wednesday, the tribunal will decide if an allegation that the then acting commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan tried to personally influence the case in order to isolate Gda Keogh is to be still considered an issue. The tribunal heard that the allegation is based on a third party, who denies any knowledge of it.
Ms O’Sullivan denies the allegations as “completely untrue and without foundation”. The tribunal heard the DPP investigated Gda Keogh’s claims and concluded that they fell short of the standard for prosecution due to their circumstantial nature.
The tribunal heard details of sick leave taken by Gda Keogh in mid-2015.
In a statement to the tribunal, Supt Patrick Murray said that at one point Gda Keogh acknowledged he was absent without leave. He said that Gda Keogh had reported fit for duty while drunk and forgotten he had done so and had been continuously drinking for the next few days.