Derek Byrne: allegedly falsely imprisoned another garda

THE GARDA commissioner has received a criminal complaint alleging that assistant commissioner Derek Byrne physically restrained and falsely imprisoned a garda whistleblower in a hotel in Monaghan last month.

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.

He claimed gardaí failed to investigate certain serious crimes including a sexual assault, physical assault, a case of false imprisonment and hijacking.

The whistleblower also alleged that some officers regularly turned up drunk to work. The garda, who has been moved from his station in the Bailieborough district since he made his complaint, also claimed that gardaí posted information about a victim of domestic violence on Bebo, the social-networking website.

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.

It is understood the assistant commissioner had not upheld some of the more serious allegations made by the whistleblower and these issues were discussed at the heated meeting.

At the meeting, the whistleblower voiced concerns that Byrne was the assistant commissioner based in Sligo at the time of some of the alleged misconduct, meaning he would have had responsibility for the Bailieborough district and therefore could not be seen to be impartial.

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 community were involved in criminality.

The whistleblower claimed that officers had incorrectly stated that innocent people were involved in crime, in a bid to increase their returns on work.

The whistleblower said he planned to hand this information over to an independent body rather than the assistant commissioner.

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.

One of the gardaí present, a representative from the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, tried to calm the situation down.

The whistleblower claimed he was unable to leave the room and was again obstructed by the assistant commissioner when he tried to leave with the files. Byrne then took possession of the boxes of documents and left the hotel.

The fourth garda present was Chief Supt Terri McGinn.

It is understood the boxes of documents seized by the assistant commissioner alleging misuse of the Pulse system are to be investigated, but Byrne is not to lead this investigation.

The documents have been placed in safekeeping and because of the conflict between the whistleblower and Byrne, another officer will be appointed to probe the fresh allegations.

The assistant commissioner has been informed that a criminal complaint has been made against him in relation to the incident in the hotel.

It is understood he will deny he assaulted and falsely imprisoned the garda but will admit there was an incident at the hotel between the pair.

Formal statements have not yet been taken by gardaí. The garda commissioner has also been formally requested to set up an independent inquiry into the allegations of criminal malpractice at Bailieborough.

A spokesman for the garda press office said he could not comment on an internal investigation. The Sunday Tribune understands deputy commissioner Naice Rice has been appointed to investigate the allegations made against Byrne.