Are Irish Gardai, Cops, one of the most Corrupt Police Forces in Europe; many from Within, Say Yes, many say also, that there are at least a hundred Rogue Cops, and some who are on Gangland Payrolls? Hard to Digest? We could ask, locked up, former Supt Spud Murphy?

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Whistleblower claims superintendent ‘compromised’ child sexual assault probe, tribunal hears

17th May 2022

A retired Garda sergeant has claimed a superintendent compromised an investigation into the alleged sexual assault of a minor in which a suspect was “connected” to two other senior officers.

The claim by Sgt Paul Barry was outlined at the Disclosures Tribunal which today began hearings into allegations the retired officer was subject to bullying and harassment after making a series of protected disclosures.

Tribunal counsel Sinead McGrath said Sgt Barry was stationed at Mitchelstown Garda Station in Co Cork at the time of the investigation in 2012 and remained there until his retirement in 2016.

Opening the tribunal’s latest module at Dublin Castle, Ms McGrath said that following a report of alleged sexual assault of a minor, investigating members became aware one of the alleged suspects was connected to both Superintendent John Quilter, the district officer for Midleton, and his brother, then Chief Superintendent Tony Quilter, who later became assistant commissioner for the Southern Region.

She said this information was conveyed to Supt Michael Comyns, who was based at Fermoy Garda Station.

Ms McGrath said that in November 2012 Sgt Barry made a statement alleging bullying and harassment after contacting An Garda Síochána’s human resources section.

In the statement, he said the “whole investigation was compromised by Supt Comyns actions and directions” and that the superintendent had perverted the course of justice.

“Supt Comyns manipulated the nature of the investigation and my ability to perform it by deliberately giving me ambiguous instructions and withholding critical information in order to undermine my performance,” he claimed.

Sgt Barry said he was subsequently served with a disciplinary notice by Supt Comyns for allegedly being late for work on two occasions. “He said he was being punished for not towing the line,” said Ms McGrath.

Allegations by Sgt Barry that he was targeted or discredited after making protected disclosures have been denied by several senior gardaí.

In a statement to the tribunal, Supt Comyns said: “I totally deny that I ever targeted Paul Barry or was ever aware of other persons targeting Paul Barry.”

The tribunal heard Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan appointed Chief Supt Catherine Kehoe to investigate the allegations of bullying and harassment and any other criminal offences identified in Sgt Barry’s complaint.

Chief Supt Kehoe did not uphold Sgt Barry’s complaint.

A further criminal investigation into whether Supt Comyns had perverted the course of justice took place between 2013 and 2015.

Ms McGrath said this looked at contacts between Supt Comyns and Supt Quilter at the time of the sexual assault complaint.

A filed submitted to the DPP by Chief Supt Kehoe in November 2015 said there was “insufficient information” to sustain a prosecution and the DPP subsequently directed there be no prosecution.

In protected disclosures to the Justice Minister, Sgt Barry was severely critical of Chief Supt Kehoe’s investigations.

Ms McGrath said that in an interview with tribunal investigators, Sgt Barry said he “made a formal allegation to the Minister for Justice that Chief Supt Kehoe had perverted the course of justice by deliberately delaying her investigation and by conducting a biased investigation devoid of morality, sentiment and conscience”.

Sgt Barry said he believed Chief Supt Kehoe “through her actions in the course of her investigation, deliberately targeted me by not treating my complaint promptly and/or properly”.

Ms McGrath said that, in a statement to the tribunal, Chief Supt Kehoe rejected the allegation, saying she “conducted a duly diligent investigation with a competent team over a reasonable period”.

The tribunal heard Sgt Barry reported “non-effective” for duty in August 2012, citing work-related stress, and remained out of work until March 2013.

He alleges he was “deliberately targeted” by the divisional officer for Fermoy, Chief Supt Gerard Dillane who he said classified his illness as “ordinary illness and not work-related stress”.

Sgt Barry said he suffered a loss of pay because of this and that his illness was misclassified as “flu/viral” even though some certificates from his general practitioner specified he was unfit due to a “work-related illness”.

In a statement to the tribunal, Chief Supt Dillane said he could not issue a certificate for injury on duty as only the Garda chief medical officer could do so.

But the chief medical officer, Dr Oghenovo Oghuvbu, told the tribunal he was unable to advise on work-related stress without a report from Garda management examining or investigating the presence of work-related stressors.

Ms McGrath said that, ahead of Sgt Barry’s return to work, Dr Oghuvbu recommended a safe and supportive working environment be put in place by local management.

A medical certificate issued by his general practitioner stated Sgt Barry was fit to return to work under certain circumstances. These included that he should not work or attend at Fermoy Garda Station and should not come into contact with Supt Comyns.

Ms McGrath said Chief Supt Dillane had made a statement to the tribunal saying he offered to facilitate Sgt Barry with a station closer to his home and a different management.

In the statement, Chief Supt Dillane said Sgt Barry refused his offer and told him that if anyone was to move, it should be Supt Comyns.

The chief superintendent maintained that the conditions set out in the GP’s medical certificate could not be met “on the basis of reasonability and practicability”.

He said it was not within his power to transfer Supt Comyns and that due to a shortage of sergeants he could not afford the luxury of having a sergeant working outside the district system.

Supt Comyns was the district officer at the time.

Ms McGrath said the tribunal would be investigating whether Supt Comyns and/or Chief Supt Dillane targeted or discredited Sgt Barry by pressurising him to agree to a transfer to another station against his will and by causing an inspector to make inappropriate enquiries with his GP.

The tribunal will also investigate whether Supt Comyns targeted Sgt Barry by initiating disciplinary proceedings after he took “force majeure” leave in April 2013 and by refusing to authorise an annual leave application in May 2013.

Ms McGrath said it would also investigate whether Chief Supt Dillane targeted Sgt Barry by refusing to issue a certificate of service to him, by classifying his service as “very good” instead of “exemplary”, and by scheduling him for duty at the Irish Open golf tournament at Fota Island together with Supt Comyns in June 2014.

Sgt Barry has claimed Supt Comyns conspired with Supt Quilter to put him in contact with Supt Comyns at the event. He claimed he had to be in the same room as Supt Comyns and “became physically sick”.

The sergeant said he submitted a retirement application immediately after this.

In a statement to the tribunal, Chief Supt Dillane said the classification of Sergeant Barry’s service was “a subjective matter” that he had given “serious thought” to.

When the classification was appealed by Sgt Barry, the chief superintendent said he contemplated the matter further and decided to amend his opinion, changing the classification to “exemplary”.

Supt Comyns, in a statement to the tribunal, said he had no involvement in Sgt Barry’s deployment at the golf event and that the allegation of collusion with Supt Quilter was “not true”.

He also denied that he manufactured a reason to discipline Sgt Barry.

Ms McGrath said Supt Quilter had told the tribunal he had taken Sgt Barry’s concerns about working with Supt Comyns on board and placed him in charge of a key traffic location in Carrigtwohill under the direct supervision of an inspector.

Supt Quilter said that Sgt Barry had said in his statement that he didn’t have any direct contact or dealings with Supt Comyns at the event and in the circumstances he did “not understand how any allegation, inference, or imputation arises”.

The tribunal module is expected to last five weeks.

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