Garda inspector denies being sent to GP to check if medical cert was 'forgery'

The tribunal is investigating claims made by retired Garda Sgt Paul Barry, formerly of Mitchelstown garda station in Co Cork
Garda inspector denies being sent to GP to check if medical cert was 'forgery'

Paul Neilan

A garda inspector has denied that he visited a GP surgery because it was suspected a medical certificate issued to a sergeant who alleges he was bullied and harassed was a forgery, the Disclosures Tribunal has heard.

However, Insp Anthony O'Sullivan on Thursday told the tribunal that he had "never" seen a medical certificate stating that someone was fit to return to work but should not attend their place of work and said he was told to check its validity.

The sergeant claims that the visit amounted to targeting him and had made him "upset and intimidated", while the GP also told the Tribunal that she felt "unnerved" by the inspector's visit.

The tribunal is investigating claims made by retired Garda Sgt Paul Barry, formerly of Mitchelstown garda station in Co Cork, who made a 2012 complaint that the proper investigation of a child sexual assault allegation was prevented by Superintendent Michael Comyns, who he says also bullied and harassed him.

The Director of Public Prosecutions later directed there be no prosecution of the child sex assault allegation.

The former sergeant claims the investigation found that one of the alleged suspects was connected to two senior gardaí, former Supt John Quilter and then Chief Supt Anthony Quilter, the tribunal has also heard.

After a criminal investigation, the DPP directed in November 2015 there be no prosecution relating to Sgt Barry's claim that Supt Comyns had perverted the course of justice, due to a lack of evidence.

The tribunal has heard that Supt Comyns, who denies allegations of bullying and targeting Mr Barry, has described the complaints as "unfounded and vexatious". After an internal Garda investigation, the bullying and harassment complaints were not upheld by investigators, headed by former Chief Supt Catherine Kehoe.


On Thursday, Insp O'Sullivan told Shane Costelloe SC, for Mr Barry, that he was not visiting the GP on suspicion of the certificate being a forgery because he believed that Mr Barry "would never do that".

Mr Barry reported as unfit for duty on August 6th, 2012, due to what he says was work-related stress. Mr Barry has told the tribunal that he was forced to return to work on March 29th, 2013 for financial reasons as he was on half-pay due to the length of the leave - 239 days in total.

His GP, Dr Margaret Kiely, in her medical records provided to the tribunal, reports that she met with Mr Barry on March 28th, 2013, but said that she did not believe him fit to return to work if he had to come in contact with Supt Comyns or attend Fermoy Garda Station, where Supt Comyns was based.

Dr Kiely subsequently issued a medical certificate allowing Mr Barry to return to work with these conditions attached.

Insp O'Sullivan told Mr Costelloe that he visited Dr Kiely's surgery on his way to court on the morning of April 5th, 2013, after being asked by Chief Supt Gerard Dillane to inquire about the conditions in the medical certificate. The cert had also been backdated in biro from April 4th, 2013 to March 28th, 2013, the day before Mr Barry returned to work.

Mr Barry claims that the visit was targeting him in that it amounted to sending Insp O'Sullivan to question his doctor. Mr Barry has told the tribunal in his statement that "I never had a medical cert questioned previously in all my service" and that it made him "upset and intimidated".


Chief Supt Dillane has stated to tribunal investigators that he asked Insp O'Sullivan to see if the certificate was "genuine" and to ask the doctor if she could explain how she could say that a member of An Garda Síochána could not work at Fermoy garda station". Chief Supt Dillane said that he did not target Mr Barry by sending Insp O'Sullivan.

"When I first saw the certificate I had to read it a few times, as I could not believe a doctor would write such words. I wondered for a while if it was for real and I was particularly taken back by the section which said that Paul Barry could not work at Fermoy, as I took this to mean that Fermoy garda station was not a safe place to work in.

"I was looking for clarification on this matter. Dr Kiely was the author - I believed she was the first person to start with. I was not targeting Sgt Barry with my actions but I was doing my job as I saw fit," Chief Supt Dillane told tribunal investigators.

Insp O'Sullivan said that the certificate was similar to a builder being told they were fit for work but "could not go on the site". Insp O'Sullivan said that he did not encounter any issue when visiting the GP and that he was to check the conditions, which she verified.

He told Mr Costelloe that he had "never seen a cert like it prior or since" but that he did not suspect it to be forged.

Mr Costelloe said that Dr Kiely told the tribunal in her interview that she felt "unnerved" by Insp O'Sullivan's visit and claimed that he was in full uniform. Insp O'Sullivan said that he disputed that account and that he was not in full uniform.

Mr Costelloe put it to Insp O'Sullivan that he was sent by Chief Supt Dillane to see if the cert was "either a forgery or had been manipulated". Insp O'Sullivan said that neither he nor Chief Supt Dillane suspected the document to be forged and that he had worked with Mr Barry for eight years. "It would never have crossed my mind that Paul Barry would do something like that [forge a document]," said Insp O'Sullivan.

The tribunal continues on Tuesday of next week before retired judge Chairman Sean Ryan.

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