As ordinary Gardai police struggle to contain the escalating gangland war, Garda chiefs have been warned by a policing watchdog that public trust in the force is fading over repeated scandals and failures.
A damning statement from the Policing Authority expressed “deep unease” at the culture and management of the Gardai in the wake of the O’Higgins report into whistleblower allegations.
It emerged earlier this month that the legal team of Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan (pictured) made false accusations regarding one whistleblower, Maurice McCabe, in an apparent attempt to smear the Garda sergeant. O’Sullivan is now to be questioned in public by the Policing Authority as it seeks “evidence of a tangible response” to the scandals.
The crisis comes as the gangland war in Dublin has now claimed seven lives, with no sign of it abating. There are also growing fears of possible Garda collusion in the violence as one gang, the Kinahans, appear to have access to high-grade intelligence on their victims. The latest to be shot down, Gareth Hutch, was killed not far from an armed Garda checkpoint.
Meanwhile, allegations of Garda malpractice continue. A Sinn Fein TD has called for a commission of investigation into illegal Garda activity which he alleges is ongoing in the Leitrim district.
Sligo-Leitrim TD Martin Kenny said “rogue” gardai were using criminal informants to entrap and prosecute people. He also claimed senior officers were protecting the rogue gardai and covering for them “with secrecy and denial”.
He accused gardai of running their own informants and raised concerns about the investigation of the case of a missing man from Aughavas, County Leitrim, who has never been found. He suggested the protection of a Garda informant, the last person seen in the missing man’s company, was put before an investigation of the disappearance in 2011.
He told the Dail a number of other serious allegations had been brought to his attention by whistleblowers, both serving gardai and former gardai, over the past two years.
Two more garda whistleblowers making separate accusations are Gardai Nicky Keogh and Keith Harrison, both based in Athlone, County Westmeath, in 2009. Both made complaints regarding certain events involving their own roles in the midlands town.
Another lingering scandal is the false arrest three years ago of socialist TD and Garda critic Clare Daly, supposedly under the suspicion of drink-driving, and the release to the media of (false) information about that arrest.
Others in a litany of controversies include the behaviour of Gardai involved in providing security for the Corrib Gas project in County Mayo; and the ongoing political policing of water charge protestors in Dublin.
Sinn Fein’s Jonathan O’Brien said he has concerns that Noirin O’Sullivan will not be able to implement the culture change needed in the force. He said: “Ultimately victim’s themselves have been left down by the very people who are suppose to carry out investigation.
“The Commissioner is going to be responsible in implementing that culture change. She has a lot of questions to answer following the O’ Higgins report.
“You would have to question whether that culture change can happen under her leadership and that remains to be seen.”
The Cork TD said that despite “report after report” the culture mentioned on the O’Higgins report still exists. “That’s deeply unfair on the rank and file gardai who are doing their upmost to tackle crime,” he added.