Senior garda had no malice towards whistleblower, Charleton tribunal told

A senior garda who referred a whistleblower to the Garda Ombudsman over a domestic dispute complaint has told the Charleton Tribunal that she has no malice towards the officer.

In October 2013 Marissa Simms, the partner of garda whistleblower Keith Harrison, made a statement to gardaí alleged that Garda Harrison had threatened that he would "burn her" and "bury her". Ms Simms later withdrew the statement but not before it was referred to GSOC.

Garda Harrison has testified that he believed the referral to GSOC was motivated by malice towards him.

In the current module, the tribunal is looking at contacts between gardaí and the HSE/Tusla relating to Garda Harrison.

Today counsel for Gda Harrison said that senior officers in Donegal were interpreting the 2005 Garda Síochana Act "beyond breaking point" at a garda conference where it was decided to refer the statement to GSOC under a section covering incidents involving death or "serious harm".

Mark Harty SC said that Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn regarded a threat of future harm as serious harm, and in evidence earlier, Superintendent Eugene McGovern said that psychological harm on receiving a threat was grounds to refer to GSOC.

Chief Supt McGinn said that the meeting, on 8 October 2013, also discussed the issue of psychological harm to Ms Simms' children. The statement by Ms Simms was also referred to the HSE.

Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn today. Pic:

Chief Supt McGinn said her interpretation may have been wrong, but the referral to GSOC was made in good faith.

Mr Harty said that if the chief superintendent was acting in good faith she would have made entries in the officer's journal about the decisions made in the case. The witness said there were no ulterior motives.

Counsel put it to the witness that she would have done more if she was concerned about the safety of Ms Simms and her children.

"I'm happy that the decisions I made were the right decisions at the time," she replied.

Mr Harty said that the chief superintendent "didn't give a fig" about Ms Simms, but only wanted to get Garda Harrison out of her division.

"I'm satisfied the steps I took were appropriate. They were measured," Chief Supt McGinn said.

She added: "I have absolutely no malice to Garda Harrison. He is back working in my division for the past few months and I have shown no malice to him whatsoever."

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