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Garda civilian analyst alleges bullying and harassment

A Garda civilian analyst, who exposed errors in the recording of homicide data, has taken a case against An Garda Síochána and the Government.

Lois West alleges she has been subjected to both whistleblower penalisation and sexual harassment.

Her case opened today at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Ms West has brought parallel statutory complaints against the Commissioner of An Garda Siochána, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and the government under the Protected Disclosures Act and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act – along with a claim under the Payment of Wages Act.

At a previous hearing, Ms West’s legal team said she had been forced to take sick leave in December 2020 as a result of what they described as the wrongdoing in this matter.

In March 2018, Ms West gave evidence before the Oireachtas Justice Committee outlining her concerns about the misclassification and inaccurate recording of crimes by the Gardaí.

At today’s WRC hearing, Ms West said that prior to going before the Oireachtas Committee, she and a colleague were “belittled and undermined” when they tried to highlight data recording issues with Garda management.

She described being shouted down at meetings that were tense, fractious and a source of “great discomfort.”

“There were attempts to insinuate we didn’t know what we were talking about because we weren’t investigators,” Ms West told the hearing.

The WRC heard that Ms West felt there was an effort to portray her and her colleague as “silly little girls”.

She said that she believes senior Gardaí misled the Oireachtas and the Policing Authority by not disclosing the data management issues that she had been highlighting.

Ms West said she was put under pressure to sign off on findings that she did not agree with, adding that there were attempts to bully her and that she felt harassed.

She said significant pressures were brought to bear on her during phone calls with a Garda superior who at one stage said ‘I’ve told them, the lady is not for turning.”

“That’s right,” Ms West replied, “the lady is not for turning.”

She told today’s hearing that it felt like a “punch to the gut” when she learned that her approaches to the Policing Authority had been made known to her superiors.

The hearing heard details of statements made in the Dail in March 2018 by the then Tánaiste Simon Coveney that appeared to support Ms West and her colleague.

“It gave me hope that our treatment would be looked at, investigated and something done about it,” Ms West said.

The hearing will continue tomorrow.

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