Garda whistleblower John Wilson has described the prevalence of Garda misconduct within the force as “frightening” and said broader concerns about people “maliciously prosecuted” had to be addressed. He said “if people thought the penalty points issue was serious – what I have heard in the last year would make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck ….The number of people that have been maliciously prosecuted by Gardai is…more than frightening – it is sickening.”
The comments by Mr Wilson, who has been exonerated within the past few days, cannot be cast to one side they must be examined fully. Others within the force must also be prepared to spill everything into the public domain, otherwise the corruption will flourish and the exposure to date will have been futile.
In this article I have included a summary of some of the cases from 2013 that mentioned some issues that haven’t come to the fore during the heave against Callinan. Many of the outstanding issues can only leave matters worse in the months ahead and no doubt damage limitation is priority in order to save and uphold the public confidence in the Gardai as it is at an all time low of late. Failing to adequately address would result in a complete collapse of morale and a breakdown of confidence in the forces of law and order. No country or its people could tolerate such corrupt practice from those who are supposed to uphold the law. How far is the rot ingrained within the force is unimaginable but there is no doubt that a problem of major proportion exists and it has been there for many years. Anything less than an independent body to oversee the running of the Garda force would be unacceptable.
During his time in office Martin Callinan was seriously damaged within his own organisation, being a key player in some deadly spats involving grossly improper interference with the penalty points system alone. Although he had a long career in the force, previously he was able to avoid the limelight even though he participated in many high profile investigations. His inconspicuous activity within the Special Branch allowed him to discreetly move up the ranks. Eventually however his promotion to the highest office came at a price; it propelled him into the limelight where his activity was exposed to public scrutiny, which wasn’t to his liking. His clashes with the Ombudsman’s office became intolerable and it placed him on the slippery slope to forced retirement.
Many within the present Government were alarmed to learn of allegations of Callinan’s questionable practice, which included dubious evidence in court, his handling of informants, deliberately targeting individuals for prosecution with feigned evidence and (unlawfully) briefing journalists with personal details on individuals extracted from Garda files. Some of his colleagues were even alarmed by the extent of the exchanging of intelligence with foreign agencies without proper authorisation. The issues outlined clearly falls in line with what the whistle blowers were suggesting. In the past, Martin Callinan personally stood over some of the most high profile controversial cases in recent times. They included the cases of Kieran Boylan a drugs importer and supplier and a protected informant, Ian Bailey accused of the murder of French actress Sophie Toscan Du Plantier and the case of veteran IRA figure Michael McKevitt. Despite all the unpalatable issues surrounding Callinan it took the recent penalty points and whistle blower debacle to force the Government’s hand to address the corrupt practices.
The case of Kieran Boylan, a notorious drug trafficker from Co Louth is still under investigation by the Garda Ombudsman’s office and under Callinans leadership it led to the on-going problems between the Ombudsman’s office and the Garda authorities.
Boylan was arrested in October 2005 in possession of €1.8m worth of cocaine and heroin at a transport yard in Co Louth. Initially he was detained by members of the Garda Drug Unit who were unaware that he was also a high-level informant working with a different section within the Gardai and with the knowledge and authorisation of Martin Callinan.
With Callinan gone now from office none of the present senior Garada management will want to taint their own CV’s or jeopardise their own careers and it could possibly lead to the Boylan case being blown wide open.
The case of Ian Bailey always had the potential to cause Callahan’s downfall and it is highly likely it was the contributing factor when the full details finally emerge. Such is the widespread corrupt practice within this particular case it also has the potential to lead other resignations within the force. During the murder investigation of the French actress, the state prosecutor expressed his concern that senior Gardai were engaged in a relentless and improper attempt to achieve a prosecution of Ian Bailey for the 1996 murder despite the full knowledge that there was insufficient evidence against him. During the Garda investigation an attempt was made to force a woman to make a false statement accusing Mr Bailey of the murder.
In May 2013 the High Court granted orders requiring the State to discover a wide range of documents to Mr Bailey for his pending civil action over the investigation into the murder. Significantly, during the hearing, the Judge said that there are some very disturbing and unusual matters relating to the Garda investigation into the murder. One of the matters included the bugging of the Garda stations; it is believed that this issue will be fully exposed in the upcoming civil case where Mr Bailey is suing the state. Mr Bailey’s civil case may also lead to prosecutions against some members of the Gardai.
Martin Callinan’s CV also includes his involvement in the questionable conviction of IRA man Michael McKevitt. Throughout McKevitt’s case it was evident that it contained multiple controversies and although he was convicted for directing the IRA, the conviction was controversial with much of the evidence highly dubious from the outset. Callinan’s sworn evidence in McKevitt’s trial was threaded with perjury, misinformation, and it later emerged that he was responsible for withholding relevant documentation which would have assisted McKevitt’s defence. The injustice in Mr McKevitt’s was never addressed adequately and he has almost completed a 20 year sentence.
Some significant information used to secure McKevitt’s conviction included evidence taken in 2002 during a disclosure hearing in the Special Criminal Court. Mr Callinan told the court that the main prosecution witness, Mr Rupert, was in the employment of the FBI and MI5 and was working within the state without proper authorisation from the Irish authorities, which was not true. During the evidence to the court Callinan said that the Gardai retained no files or records on Mr Rupert. However, in 2008 during a hearing of the Omagh civil case, the then Assistant Garda Commissioner Dermot Jennings was asked by defence lawyers ‘did the Gardai retain a file or record on Mr Rupert’ to which Mr Jennings replied “yes” he also said that he had viewed the file earlier that day and on the previous day. Jennings also told the court that the file was opened on Mr Rupert from 1995. The evidence given by Jennings clearly contradicted Callinan’s evidence in 2002, which would clearly suggest that Callinan had given misleading evidence on more than one occasion and should have been seized upon by McKevitt’s legal team in the intervening years. The foul means used to convict Mr McKevitt can only be described as frightening but the facts are there to be contradicted.
Hopefully the corrupt system within the Gardai is slowly unravelling with the demise of Callinan and perhaps some of his close associates may also decide to retire in the not too distant future also. Unfortunately it took some brave individuals to expose the corrupt nature within the Irish police force, but will the door be closed before the cleansing process is complete. The warning signs are there and the Irish people need to stand up and say we have had enough.