Gardai “at risk of retaliation” after sparking probe
THE EU anti-fraud agency, known as Olaf, has launched a full inquiry into the Templemore “slush fund” on the back of correspondence received from a Garda whistleblower.
EU body Olaf wrote to Donegal- based Garda Keith Harrison last Wednesday and confirmed it has decided to launch a formal investigation after a “preliminary analysis” into activities at the training college.
Mr Harrison told Olaf investigators he has seen first-hand documents that point to financial irregularities and wrongdoing in An Garda Siochana. “As you will be aware I am a serving officer in An Garda Siochana, and having made such a complaint to
Olaf this leaves me in a very precarious position where I am vulnerable to acts of retribution by the people I have made allegations about,” Mr Harrison wrote in correspondence.
While Olaf had already indicated it would examine the allegations of fraud at the college, its letter to Mr Harrison illustrates that the matter is being treated with the utmost seriousness.
Mr Harrison, through his solicitor Trevor Collins, did not wish to comment when contacted by the Herald.
It’s the first time any serving member of the force has alerted the EU authorities to suspicions of wrongdoing within An Garda Siochana. Mr Harrison has also written to the European Court of Auditors on the back of the explosive evidence provided to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by civilian members of the force.
The probe will now be led by Olaf ’s Nancy van Dorsselaer.
According to the correspondence seen by the Herald, the decision by Mr Harrison to notify the EU stemmed from concerns he and other colleagues share about the Templemore issue. Garda management is understood to be aware of Mr Harrison’s decision.
In the correspondence to Olaf and the court of auditors, Mr Harrison identifies himself as a serving officer.
“I am making contact with you to inform you directly that I believe monetary grants originating from Cepol (The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training) and afforded to An Garda Siochana have been utilised fraudulently within An Garda Siochana or for purposes other than intended by Cepol or the European Union who provides such money,” the officer states in one letter to the Director General of Olaf, Giovanni Kessler.
“The allegations I have made to you are of a very serious nature and in making them I have put myself in a very precarious position.
“I should inform you that I have also made these allegations known to the European Court of Auditors, who have acknowledged my complaint and have forwarded my submission to their audit department.”