Derek Byrne: allegation

THE Minister for Justice has been asked to make a statement about a criminal complaint that a garda whistleblower was physically restrained and falsely imprisoned by assistant commissioner Derek Byrne, as revealed in last week's Sunday Tribune.

Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy has received a criminal complaint about the alleged incident in a hotel in Monaghan last month.

It is understood that deputy commissioner Naice Rice has been appointed to investigate the allegations made against Byrne.

Byrne had been appointed to oversee an internal investigation after a garda made a number of serious allegations against his colleagues in the Cavan/ Monaghan area.

The whistleblower claimed gardaí failed to investigate certain serious crimes including a sexual assault, a physical assault, a case of false imprisonment and a hijacking. The accusations were made in a report passed to Brian McCarthy, former secretary-general to President McAleese.

McCarthy was appointed by the government to receive confidential information from gardaí who want to report corruption and wrongdoing in the force.

As a result, a major internal investigation was launched in May 2008, led by assistant commissioner Byrne.

Byrne met with the garda whistleblower and two other gardaí at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan on 11 October.

The meeting was held to discuss the investigation, which is almost complete.

The garda also brought to the meeting boxes of documents printed from the garda intelligence system, Pulse, which he said clearly showed that gardaí had falsely claimed members of the public were involved in criminality.

The whistleblower refused to hand over this documentation to the assistant commissioner and an argument ensued. The garda then allegedly attempted to leave the room where the meeting was taking place with his boxes of documentation.

In his complaint to the garda commissioner, the officer claimed Byrne restrained him by the arm and shoulder to prevent him leaving the room. Byrne then allegedly blocked the door and refused to let the garda leave with the documentation.

Eventually Byrne took possession of the boxes of documents and left the hotel.

Labour's Pat Rabbitte raised the issue of internal garda investigation into alleged garda malpactice at Bailieborough in the Dáil on Thursday. He asked justice minister Dermot Ahern: "If his attention [had] been drawn to claims that a conscientious garda has been scapegoated at location; [for] his views on whether the issues surrounding this case have been adequately and fairly investigated; [for] the up-to-date position regarding this investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter."

The minister responded that he could not comment as the matter was still under garda investigation.