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Whistleblower denies 'rounding up people' to make complaints against garda, tribunal hears

A Garda whistleblower has told the Disclosues Tribunal that he was not “rounding” people up to make complaints against a garda he alleged was colluding with a drug-dealer.

Garda Nicholas Keogh alleges that a senior member of the Athlone drugs unit, identified to the tribunal as Garda A, was in an improper relationship with a heroin dealer, identified as Ms B.

On his second day giving evidence, Gda Keogh told Judge Sean Ryan that on May 18, 2014, he used the Garda Pulse computer system to query Garda A. The following July Garda A was made aware of the check and subsequently made a complaint to superiors.

Garda A told Garda Superintendent Noreen McBrien that the check was for "personal reasons" and that "these checks were in no way Garda-related matters", adding that the "sinister" matter be fully investigated.

Supt McBrien requested Sergeant Andrew Haran to seek a report from Gda Keogh as to why the query of Garda A was made.

Gda Keogh did not respond to the the request, saying that he had told an internal investigation team into his allegations of criminality in Athlone and that all queries and information should have been delivered to them.

In his tribunal statement, Gda Keogh said: "It was evident to senior management that an independent police investigation was in train in respect of my complaint relating to Garda A.

"I had checked Garda A on Pulse...following specific intelligence received from a source on 10 May, 2014, which was the subject of my forthcoming statement to the internal investigator.”

He said he was entitled to check the Pulse system and said that the demand for a report conflicted with his obligations to the internal investigation.

Gda Keogh said he was seeking anything else relevant to Miss B, that he had to look and see and that he found nothing more.

Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, asked if letters asking for an explanation over the Pulse search amounted to harassment.

Gda Keogh said the queries should have been passed on to the investigation team.

He said:

"I've carried out thousands [of Pulse searches] in 19 years and never once did I get a letter down asking why did you check this person.”

On 28 May, 2014, a third party named Olivia O'Neill called to Athlone Garda Station to make a complaint regarding an alleged assault on her daughter. Gda Keogh was the member in charge and spoke to Ms O'Neill but did not take her statement.

In his tribunal statement, he said that Ms O'Neill wanted to make a statement about Miss B assaulting her daughter and said to Gda Keogh "that there was police collusion in Athlone in the drugs trade and that Ms B was doing favours for guards. Her allegations were general in nature."

Another garda took Ms O'Neill's statement and reported that Ms O'Neill said she had been advised by Gda Keogh to include allegations concerning gardaí and Ms B. Gda Keogh and Ms O'Neill deny this.

Gda Keogh said he told Ms O'Neill to "name names and name guards" but did not mention any individuals.

Gda Keogh was asked in writing about what he had said to Ms O'Neill and that he felt that he was trying to be portrayed as someone who tried to persuade Ms O'Neill to name Garda A.

"I'm not rounding up people to name Garda A," he told Judge Ryan.

Mr McGuinness said that Garda A didn't appear to have been named by Ms O'Neill. Gda Keogh said: "It was the talk of the town, public knowledge."

Gda Keogh then said he was advised that "Ms O'Neill was advised to make a complaint about me", which was refused by Ms O'Neill.

Gda Keogh said that the queries about his work were emanating from "the chief in Mullingar" and that queries and information on such matters should all have been passed to the internal investigation, headed by Donal Ó Cualáin.

"They tried to discredit me, regarding the main investigation, as if I was dragging people in to make complaints against Garda A."

He agreed with a suggestion that the requests for information might be considered to be reasonable. Gda Keogh continues his evidence this afternoon.