Above: Kerz knocked it out of the park with his illustrations for our feature on scandals in the Nardai for #rabble14. To see his work in all its inky glory, go cop yourself that article in print and keep an eye out for stickers too.
Have you heard of Nick Keogh or Keith Harrison? Patrick McCusker thinks you really should have and asks why major media outlets are ignoring other Garda whistle-blowers?
Nick Keogh is a Garda whistleblower who has been on sick leave since 2015. The reason for this has officially changed from “work-related stress” to a “flu” over the course of his time away from the force. Meanwhile, he’s been subject to five internal investigations since May 2014 and forced to manage on just over 200 euro a week despite his years of service to An Garda Siochana. All of this is going on despite Nick Keogh being cleared by an internal inquiry.
His case is mirrored by that of Keith Harrison, a Garda sergeant who is at the center of the current Charleton Inquiry. Keith Harrison claims that since coming forward, he has been subject to campaigns of systematic ostracism, the fabrication of allegations against him and repeated efforts to remove him from his job entirely. These have included Tusla investigations into the well being of his partner’s children which have found him to be completely innocent, but with no repercussions for the accusers.
Do either of these sound familiar?
In February of this year, Clare Daly claimed in the Dail that there were as many as 9 Garda whistleblowers currently on sick leave. Why then, are we only hearing about Maurice McCabe? For example, The Irish Times has 826 articles available to read on their website about Maurice McCabe. The Irish Independent has published over 200 stories and opinion pieces about Maurice McCabe this year alone, and RTE has a whopping 1,570 hits for Maurice McCabe. Even these figures pale in comparison to the coverage which Frances Fitzgerald’s resignation is currently getting alongside the “will they won’t they” election speculation that the Garda whistleblower scandal has enabled.
Meanwhile, the other whistleblowers are getting nothing like the same media attention. Nick Keogh’s name returns a mere 4 hits on The Irish Times website, 3 on The Irish Independent and 9 on RTE. He’s overwhelmed in terms of coverage by a hurler in Wicklow with the same name.
Keith Harrison fares slightly better. The Irish Times has devoted 53 pages on their website to him and RTE has managed 384 – most of which have been published since the Inquiry opened.
Neither of these are exactly obscure cases. Nick Keogh and Keith Harrison’s cases have both been raised in the Dail. Keith Harrison has himself come forward to protest how his case has been ignored despite the obvious similarities between how himself and Maurice McCabe were treated. And even this is to say nothing of how independent journalists and outlets such as Broadsheet have extensively covered the Garda scandal from the beginning. It’s not as if the mainstream media doesn’t know they exist.
But maybe it’s just easier to limit coverage as much as possible to Maurice McCabe to leave readers and viewers shocked at his treatment without realizing that the mistreatment of whistleblowers is a much bigger problem. If there are at least nine other Garda whistleblowers being punished as severely as McCabe, Keogh and Harrison for just doing their jobs, then it changes how people think about the issue.
What if, rather than the McCabe scandal being the fault of a few bad apples in the Gardaí and Department of Justice who can be sacked in the aftermath, it’s actually the outcome of a policy across the entire organization?
In the meantime, the other Garda whistleblowers are denied the publicity they deserve for daring to speak out. Until the major media outlets admit that the mistreatment of whistleblowers runs far deeper and wider than first thought, they will continue rewarding bravery by ignoring it completely.
Read our interview with Clare Daly from #rabble13 here. She goes into similar terrain.