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Garda Commissioner criticised for bicycle case comments

The solicitor representing a garda who was cleared of any wrongdoing after a four-year investigation because he gave a farmer the loan of a bicycle has criticised comments made by the Garda Commissioner.

Speaking at the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, Drew Harris said the public did not know the full story.

Senior Counsel Damien Tansey said the Garda Commissioner needs to explain his comments and Mr Tansey said he is now going to write to the Commissioner raising these concerns.

He also said the garda who was reinstated to full duty yesterday was “extremely upset” at the comment and that “the only conclusion” that could be made from it was that there was “something blameworthy not in the public arena” relating to the garda.

The comments made by the Garda Commissioner before PAC have also drawn sharp criticism from the Garda Representative Association.

The garda was restored to full duties yesterday following a four-year criminal and disciplinary investigation into the theft of a bicycle which was found not to have been stolen at all.

The garda took the bike from a station and gave it on loan to a farmer in a rural area during the pandemic.

Mr Harris rejected GRA claims that the process lacked “common sense and proportionality” insisting it was “absolutely essential” that the integrity of the evidence management system be preserved.

He said there was a “very clear policy” that “specifically talks about bicycles”.

“I’m not quite sure what a common sense approach is,” the commissioner added, “if an officer does not stick to those processes,” he said.

However, the solicitor representing the garda disagreed with this.

The senior counsel said there was a lot of information not in the public domain but that the Commissioner’s comment which he described as “extraordinary,” implied there was “something blameworthy” for the garda and this was not the case.

He said the garda had been fully vindicated and totally exonerated on all five charges following a four day hearing.

Read more: Garda at centre of stolen bicycle case fully reinstated

Mr Tansey said he has now been instructed to write to the Commissioner on behalf of the garda.

He said the officer is recovering from this “debacle which has gone on for 4 years” and that while “he is relieved, it takes time to accustom from the shadow that has been hanging over him.”

Garda Headquarters said in order to protect an on-going disciplinary process and the garda member involved, An Garda Síochána did not comment on this matter despite a significant amount of information on the matter being reported on by the media over a period of months.

It said Commissioner Harris made it clear at PAC yesterday that he did not want to comment on an individual Garda member or the matter in detail in order to preserve the anonymity of the garda.

It also said Commissioner Harris entirely accepts the Board of Inquiry made no adverse finding against the garda, that he has been reinstated to full-time duties and that Commissioner Harris wishes him well in his future career in An Garda Síochána.

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