Friday, October 18, 2019

By Paul Neilan

A Garda who saved a drowning woman believes a commendation from management was withheld from him because he was a whistleblower, a tribunal has heard.

Garda Nicholas Keogh. Pic: Collins

The Disclosures Tribunal is hearing from Garda Nicholas Keogh who 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.

The tribunal, chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, is investigating how Gda Keogh was treated after he made his protected disclosure in 2014.

On September 22, Gda Keogh went to the assistance of a woman who had jumped into the River Shannon in Athlone between 3am and 4am and pulled her out by her hair.

Another Garda grabbed onto him from behind, on a semi-submerged boat, to prevent Gda Keogh being pulled under by the weight of the woman.

In his statement to the tribunal, Gda Keogh said that while he received an award from Irish Water Safety (IWS), no acknowledgement for exceptional police work was granted by Garda management.

“Sergeant Monaghan applied for commendations for the whole unit. Nobody received any commendations,” said Gda Keogh in his statement.

Gda Keogh told Judge Ryan: “Another guard grabbed me from behind because I would’ve ended up going down with her.

“There was no commendation for any of us in the unit – it was a real team effort with gardaí and the ambulance team were there, as well.”

“If I wasn’t a whistleblower then I’d have gotten a commendation and nobody in my unit got one because then they would have had to have given it to me.”

Judge Ryan asked if Gda Keogh found it “sinister or significant” that there was no commendation and was told: “Yes, normally we’d have gotten a commendation,” adding that he had “gotten them for less.”

Gda Keogh, however, did receive an award from IWS for which he and six others were nominated by Superintendent Patrick Murray.

In his statement, Supt Murray said: “This was the second occasion on which I nominated members from Athlone for recognition… There was no ulterior motive for nominating Gda Keogh for this award.”

Sgt Monaghan, in his statement, however, stated that he nominated all members present for consideration for the IWS Award to Supt Murray. He rejected “the assertion made by Gda Keogh that he was denied a commendation for this incident and that he single-handedly pulled the female from the water, as this was a group effort”.

Gda Keogh continues his evidence on Monday.

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