The Garda Ombudsman has reported on the investigation into the strange case of the €35,000 worth of booze claimed to be ordered by Shell for Gardaí stationed near Rossport.
It concludes ‘No evidence of the purchase or delivery of alcohol to garda stations, nor of any misconduct of garda members, has been found as a result of the investigation.’
The back story here via the Guardian is followed (further below) by the full report from the Ombudsman:
“OSSL had served Shell since the oil giant took over the Corrib pipeline in 2002, and had been contracted onsite to Shell’s predecessor, Enterprise Oil. Kane and Rooney describe having “to provide whatever’s needed, whatever time of day or night. If they needed 100 fireproof gloves at 11pm, it was our job to get them. We did a good job, Enterprise told us they’d never seen such service in Aberdeen, and Shell kept us to carry on that level of service.”
But the “accommodation services” went too far for OSSL. It was tasked to provide “a tennis court, cookers, television sets, agricultural equipment, school fees, home improvements, garden centre visits, forestry equipment”, says Rooney – for local residents. He says that he and Kane found themselves paying workmen to do one thing, then invoicing Shell for something else, and often administering “accommodation services” themselves.
The pattern was the same as the saga reached its reported nadir: the delivery, from Northern Ireland in an unmarked van, of alcohol worth €35,000 (£30,100) to the Garda station at Belmullet, where the policing operation was quartered at Christmas, 2007. Kane quotes a Supt John Gilligan as saying, while he was helping to unload the consignment of booze, “it’s lucky these walls are high”, lest the protesters caught a glimpse of what was going on.
Arguments eventually developed over invoicing the “accommodation services”, with Shell allegedly asking that another contractor be invoiced instead of the oil giant directly. Relations worsened, and OSSL’s contract was ended in 2010.
OSSL sought to recoup payments, including the outlay for the officers’ alcohol. Kane pleaded to Gilligan in February 2011: “I write to ask if you can assist us … At the Christmas period of 2007, we were instructed by Shell E&P Ireland to purchase and deliver festive gifts to … Belmullet Garda station.” Shell has “failed to reimburse us for the outlay”. He adds: “At Shell’s insistence, these gifts came with a high degree of confidentiality, which we have adhered to until this very day.”
The Ombudsman’s full report:
REPORT, PURSUANT TO SECTION 103 OF THE GARDA SÍOCHÁNA ACT (2005), INTO ALLEGATIONS OF PROVISION OF ALCOHOL TO CERTAIN GARDAÍ AND RELATED ISSUES
BACKGROUND GSOC received two complaints, in October 2013, from partners in a company, which alleged that they had supplied alcohol, on behalf of another organisation, to garda stations in Co. Mayo in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The complainants said that they had reported the matter to the Garda Síochána in 2011, as a complaint of non-payment by the other company, and alleged that it had not been investigated properly by the Garda Síochána.
ALLEGATIONS MADE The allegations contained in the two complaints to GSOC were, in summary, that:
Members of the Garda Síochána at Belmullet Garda Station, and possibly other locations, accepted gifts of alcohol, delivered by the complainant company, in December 2005, December 2006 and December 2007.
Members of the Garda Síochána failed to correctly address or properly investigate these matters, since they were reported to them by the complainant company in 2011; and failed to respond to requests for update on their inquiries into the matter.
INVESTIGATION GSOC has conducted a thorough, independent investigation into the allegations, which has now been completed. The investigation included the following steps:
- Request of specific information to support the allegations;
- Interview of the complainants;
- Interview of staff from the organisation that the complainants alleged had requested the
- supply of the alcohol;
- Review of that organisation’s internal investigation into the matter;
- Identification and interview of garda members mentioned either by full or partial name;
- Review of garda investigation into the matter; and
- Numerous other lines of enquiry.
The investigation began with numerous contacts with the complainants in Autumn/ Winter 2013, by phone, e-mail, and in person at the GSOC headquarters on two occasions. The investigation process was outlined to the complainants, including the need to retrieve documents from them, such as proofs of purchase, bank statements, vehicle hire records, company phone bills and/or any other documents which would provide evidence to substantiate their claim. It was explained that this must be done before approaches were made to any garda members about whom they had complained. Shortly after the meeting on this subject, the company indicated by e-mail that they would no longer be cooperating with the investigation. Nevertheless, GSOC proceeded with its investigation, trying to establish if there was other evidence that might support the allegations. Detailed interview of a senior officer at the organisation alleged to have requested the supply of alcohol was undertaken. This organisation had also been contacted by the complainants and had undertaken an internal investigation into what they categorised as alleged bribery and corruption, two years previously. Findings of this investigation, including the request of corroborating documentation from the complainants, the interrogation of personal computers of staff members and servers, interview of staff members, and an independent audit of invoices, were reviewed. Interviews of garda members mentioned by either full or partial name in the complaints were carried out, including confirming whether they were stationed at, or had dealings with, the garda stations in question in December 2005, December 2006 and December 2007, when the alcohol was allegedly accepted. The allegations were put to garda members and official statements were taken. A review of the garda correspondence with the complainants was undertaken.
OUTCOME No evidence of the purchase or delivery of alcohol to garda stations, nor of any misconduct of garda members, has been found as a result of the investigation.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS These complaints and allegations have been made public and had the potential to undermine public confidence in the Garda Síochána, as well as affect the reputation of others. We hope that publicly explaining the proportionate, fair and independent investigation of this matter will promote confidence of members of the public and of the Garda Síochána in police oversight in this country.
Download the full report as a PDF at the GSOC website.