Garda probe establishes GSOC officer did attend Hutch party
r • 4h ago
GARDA INVESTIGATORS HAVE established that a former Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) officer had attended a party celebrating the release of Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch.
Garda probe establishes GSOC officer did attend Hutch party©
The senior investigator had gone to a party attended by Hutch on the night he was cleared by the Special Criminal Court of taking part in the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in 2016.
The gardaí began an investigation following a referral from GSOC – the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the probe.
The Journal has learned that it has now been confirmed that the GSOC member had attended the party at a house in Clontarf, Co Dublin on the evening of Hutch’s acquittal.
Today, speaking at the Garda Representative Association (GRA) conference in Westport, Minister for Justice Simon Harris said that he had met with GSOC this morning to discuss the incident.
He said, at that meeting, that the Commission had indicated that they were considering an independent review to investigate the Hutch party controversy, separate from the garda probe.
“Over the last 24 hours I have met with the garda Commissioner and the GSOC Commissioners and they left me in no doubt as to the seriousness they are taking this particular matter,” he said.
He said that part of the garda investigation would look at if any confidential information was exchanged with members of the Hutch Organised Crime Group.
Simon Harris also said he saw nothing wrong with gardaí investigating GSOC and reassured that “it was never going to happen” that GSOC would examine itself.
The Minister said that he is happy with how GSOC have responded to the revelations and that their swift engagement with An Garda Síochána was a positive.
He explained that there was a “very active investigation” underway and that this was already gathered information and evidence.
Harris said he received a report from GSOC which laid out what their response would be to deal with the incident – this included referring the investigation to the gardaí and then to consider what further action was needed.
The Minister explained that he discussed with GSOC their recruitment and vetting processes. He said that he felt a need to examine the potential for continuous vetting throughout the career of members of GSOC and other organisations.
“It is important that we absolutely maintain and protect confidence in GSOC. We know from time to time we have seen many organisations, including on rare occasions in An Garda Síochána, it is hard to protect from something going wrong but that you have robust systems in place to respond,” he added.
Simon Harris indicated that there will “likely” be an external independent review of GSOC work systems.
“They are going to co-operate in full with the garda investigation, in parallel with that they are going to prepare for an external process – the timing of that is to be decided.
“It may involve appointing someone in due course to look at their own processes and procedures separate and distinct from any potential criminal wrongdoing,” he said.
Meanwhile, following the incident of heckling by GRA delegates of Commissioner Drew Harris yesterday, Simon Harris, said that the garda chief was offering an opportunity for compromise.
“I always think that people should engage respectfully and decide their own behaviour.
I heard the Commissioner say, when it came to rosters, that he wants a solution found and he is willing to compromise – that is an important message.
“I am acutely aware that there is no issue worse, in any workplace, than a roster. I am acutely aware, and I have met GRA and AGSI on this, issues around childcare and work life balance – these are real concerns.
“The Commissioner also has concerns about getting access to the appropriate level of gardaí at the appropriate time and the only way to solve a problem is to sit down and engage,” he added.