Marissa Simms at Charleton Tribunal: 'My kids have Pulse IDs…We just want to get on with our lives'

The partner of a garda who says he was targeted because of whistleblowing activities has told the Charleton Tribunal she would prefer if she did not have to be there.

"We want peace and we want to be left alone to get on with our lives," Marissa Simms told the inquiry today.

"My children have Pulse IDs and they don't deserve to have Pulse IDs," Ms Simms said.

In the current module, the tribunal is looking at contacts between An Garda Síochána, Tusla and Garda Keith Harrison.

Ms Simms said that the past few years had been extremely stressful and worrying.

"It's not just about a 15-minute visit from a social worker, its the knock-on effect on me as a mother," Ms Simms said.

Keith Harrison and Marisa Sims

Ms Simms said Garda Harrison had a good relationship with her children, and treated them as his own.

Ms Simms told the tribunal that when she was making a statement of complaint to gardaí on October 6, 2013, she never saw Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn.

Questioned by Garda Harrison's barrister, Mark Harty SC, Ms Simms agreed that in its early years, their relationship was "turbulent".

Mr Harty said that of all the internet searches on her phone the day after she made her statement, 31 were about medical issues, and only two were about harassment. Both of these searches were about gardaí losing their jobs, not about people being prosecuted for harassment, Mr Harty said.

Ms Simms said she had felt tired that day, and had not fully recovered from surgery the previous summer.

"To be honest the whole day was kind of blurred. I wasn't really myself," Ms Simms said.

Beginning his evidence, Garda Harrison told the tribunal he transferred to the Donegal division from Athlone in 2011. He was stationed in the Buncrana district.

"I knew I had to get out of Athlone. I knew I had to move," Garda Harrison said.

"When I sought a transfer, myself and Marisa were in the early stages of a relationship," Garda Harrison said.

Garda Harrison had not disclosed his relationship with Ms Simms, whose brother Martin McDermott was later convicted of manslaughter for the death of Buncrana-based Garda Gary McLoughlin.

He told the tribunal that in hindsight, it would have been the correct thing to do to tell his superior officers about Ms Simms' relationship to Martin McDermott

Tribunal barrister, Pat Marrinan SC, said that it was not appropriate for Garda Harrison to serve in Buncrana while his partner's brother was under investigation during a homicide inquiry.

"I didn't have any other choice," Garda Harrison said.

"From my part, I shouldn't have been precluded or prohibited for the actions of anyone else for which I was not responsible," Garda Harrison said.

Garda Harrison said that had he been in any station in Donegal other than Buncrana, where Garda McLoughlin had served, his relationship with Ms Simms would not have been an issue.

Garda Harrison said he had a good relationship with Superintendent Kevin English, and after knowledge of the relationship emerged, the superintendent told him he would have to transfer to another district.

Garda Harrison said he did not have any issue with the superintendent, but was anxious to stay in Co Donegal.


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