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Concerns Justice Minister Heather Humphreys looks to protect gardaí from Dáil allegations

Ms Humphreys agreed more effective protection should be provided to individual gardaí from allegations made against them in the Oireachtas which they cannot answer or dispute

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Heather Humphreys

Heather Humphreys

Heather Humphreys

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys is to examine concerns about the use of Oireachtas privilege by politicians to air allegations about identifiable gardaí.

The minister will raise the issue with Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl in the wake of findings and recommendations in the latest report of the Disclosures Tribunal, the Herald has learned.

The report found allegations by Athlone-based Garda Nicholas Keogh that he was targeted and discredited by senior officers after making a protected disclosure were not substantiated or justified.

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, gardaí can disclose information obtained in the course of their duties to members of the Oireachtas "where relevant to the proper discharge of the member's functions".

In its recommendations, the report said the Oireachtas may wish to consider how present or former members of the force may be more effectively protected from allegations made in the Oireachtas based on information disclosed to under the act.

A source close to the minister said Ms Humphreys agreed more effective protection should be provided to individual gardaí from allegations made against them in the Oireachtas based on information disclosed under the act, but which they cannot answer or dispute.

"The minister will raise this matter with the Ceann Comhairle and will consider what action can be taken by her department to ensure, as the report says, there is an appropriate balance between the rights of a whistleblower to communicate with their public representatives and respect for the rights of persons subject to allegations of wrongdoing," the source said.

Gda Keogh made disclosures to a number of politicians, both in respect of his original protected disclosure, in which he alleged collusion between gardaí and drug dealers, and his later complaints that he was targeted for doing so.

In the Dáil in 2015, then-TD and now MEP Mick Wallace accused a named superintendent of reclassifying crime figures and of harassing and bullying Gda Keogh. Clare Daly, also now an MEP, alleged there was clear evidence crime figures were massaged at the superintendent's station.

In the tribunal's report, chairman Mr Justice Sean Ryan said: "Great harm can be done to a person who is subjected to criticism in Dáil Éireann on the basis of allegations that he or she maintains are wrong."

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