A Garda Whistleblower’s Story
I want to tell you a true story about myself. It’s quite a horrific kind of a Garda Whistleblowers type of story. The kind of one you read straight from the person who has experienced it themselves. It’s a story that must now be told, as I can’t honestly face in to another year waiting for the wheels of justice to finally get around to helping me. I also know that I am not the only one out there who is hurting. All as a direct result of mistreatment at the hands of An Garda Siochana. I’m not the only one who has experienced a life changing ordeal. One that is best described as being put through a form of living hell for four years.
Today, I’ve decided to put my story out there in public myself because, I don’t want others to feel like they are on their own. 19 members of An Garda Siochana have taken their own lives between 2018 and 2020. This has happened during the watch of the new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. I should have made that number of suicides an even 20 on the 12th of January 2018, were it not for faith having other plans for me. So please permit me to introduce myself to you and tell you my story. My name is Jason O Mahony and unfortunately I ended up being a Garda Whistleblower.
You are not alone
To those reading this who are suffering in silence, I know only too well the pain of being ostracised from everyone, including my own children. I know first-hand the almost biblical torment of being subject to bullying and harassment by An Garda Siochana. As a consequence, I have gazed very deep in to the eyes of complete darkness. I have spent considerable time enveloped in the deepest depths of despair, having no idea of what to do next. For the last four years, I have had to live with an unending state of constant anxiety, fear, and dread. Feeling completely trapped and isolated, from everybody and everything. For many of my own good friends and family, this will be the first time that any of them become aware of my experiences.
Living in a world where everything was just turned upside down without any warning. Until you ended up in a place where all that you knew and loved about the world, was taken away from you. It leaves only an empty casket, without a trace of your former self. I have fallen so hard and ended up so broken, that no one, not even my own family, would have ever considered it would possible for me to ever stand up again. But I did.
How did this happen?
What still is desperately concerning to me, is how senior Garda management watched this slow train crash happen and do nothing. I now know that some felt so empowered by my demise, official documentation compiled capture their sheer delight. While a concerned Inspector described a member whose life was in freefall pleading for help, Chief Superintendent Tom Myers reports up along the line, “It looks like Garda O Mahony is ready to return to work”. These individuals saw a man broken and on his knees, begging them for a reprieve. Yet they just smiled and pushed the blade in further. Ensuring this individual would not ever be a problem again.
The only way I see the situation I find myself bound to completely ending for me, is bring my story in to the public arena myself. To highlight my experiences within An Garda Siochana to date. I need to move on, away from the organisation that has literally cost me absolutely everything. Worse again, the damage caused was experienced by my family and my children. It has caused incredible harm to countless people. So it has to stop.
I can only ask the reader of this post and the ones that will follow, to have an open mind. I am not without fault. I have made many of my own mistakes along the way. There are others who are hurting because of the person I became. I have to take responsibility for that, and I do, I own that. All of that pain. I want to apologise for the mistakes I made and the relationships that have been lost. I will carry that forever.
My Message to Others
I hope that there are a few others out there who will benefit from reading this blog. Hopefully, it may make a difference to some. Who knows, it might even actually prevent something like this from ever happening to anyone else again. I for one, don’t ever want to see one more life lost as a result of the abuse of some within An Garda Siochana.
To those out there that feel like you can’t go on or who are trying to hide their mental illness. I promise you that you’re not on your own. You’re braver than you believe, a lot stronger than you think, and loved more than you know. Always remember at the end of the day this is only a job. I owe so much to my family, genuine friends and to all of those who have given me the time and support to re-establish my life.
Children of the Digital Age
Children of the Digital Age became an unexpected lifeline for me. When everything was lost to me, I held true to the belief I could still help people. It gave a lifeline I never expected. I honestly want to thank each and every one of you who have given me your time. Strangers who believed in me enough to listen to the message of a very broken man who was just trying to get back up. Those who gave me a platform to stand back up again, you will never know how indebted I am to you.
It has been a really tough decision to do this. I have not made this decision lightly. But I will not go through 2020 looking over my shoulder. My focus is on moving forward now. This is the first of a series of posts that will detail my experiences to date with An Garda Siochana to date since being stationed in Killarney in 2009. There will be several posts over the next few days. Each one to introduce the reader to what it was like over the years. I will attempt to be as accurate as possible and to keep it brief. Unfortunately, all of the following is going to be true.
Arrival and the Puppet Prince
In 2009 I transferred to Killarney Garda Station from West Cork. I was notified of my transfer on the 9th of July 2009, while I was attending the birth of my first son in Cork University Hospital. The news brought great excitement and at this point, you have a young married couple welcoming their first child in their new home. Everything was perfect. Within weeks of arriving in Killarney you immediately got a sense that all was not normal within the station.
The Superintendent at the time Michael Maher was almost like a puppet prince. He appeared to have no power or influence as it had been overtly and openly usurped by the Inspector, a man called Barry O Rourke. Inspector O Rourke and a number of Sergeants and Guards made up what was affectionately called The Army Council. Those loyal to The Army Council would be favoured with promotion, or appointment to positions in the station and granted overtime. For everyone else, woe be tide those who would incur the wrath of Inspector O Rourke, or any other member of The Army Council. For your life within the station could be made quite difficult.
The destruction of the new
There was a very junior station party in Killarney. Most of the members working there had come straight from Templemore. This is an important fact to note because junior members learn from the more experienced. However, the more experienced in Killarney did many things which at best were a relic of an Ireland of old, at worst it was ethically and morally questionable. Possibly even illegal. What caught my attention very early was the sheer disinterest in the job from members far too junior to be either cynical or pissed off with their career choice. Many had less than three or four years’ service. There was simply a consensus of complete apathy towards the organisation and little or no interest at all in doing anything unless you absolutely had to.
It was obvious that senior members, some of whom were absolutely excellent guards, at one point or another, had become poisoned towards the organisation. Possibly due to observing and experiencing the carry-on of The Army Council. This distain was then passed on to junior members as they arrived. I was somewhat immunised against this to a degree, having served in a number of different stations around the country, and being fortunate enough to have worked under some truly inspirational people. It appeared only a natural thing to do, to operate as I had done so in other stations. So I did, with the expectation that junior members may see how I operated and learn from me, as I had learned from others in the past.
Something’s not right
While working nights, what I observed caught me by surprise. I watched certain licenced premises seemed to trade well after closing time. It is important to mention that the majority of publicans did keep a good house and abided fully with their obligations under licensing laws. There were others however, who it appeared no law applied to. To clarify what I mean about trading outside the legislation, at 3am when everywhere is closed, cues of people formed from those leaving the late premises who were closing on time, to enter a premises that should have been closed an hour earlier. Upon asking colleagues what was this all about, I was informed “That’s the Chiefs place”. The term Chief is often used as an abbreviation for Chief Superintendent. So the response needed to be clarified further as guards were prohibited from having a liquor licence.
“What Chief”, I asked. “The Chief of the guards”, was the reply which led me to say, “As in Chief Superintendent Pat Sullivan in Tralee”. The reply caught me very much by surprise, “No, Pat Sheahan owns McSorleys, he’s the real Chief of the guards in Killarney”. There was an old saying floating around at the time that a guard could be bought for the price of a pint. It appeared in this case to be true. McSorleys traded from 3am to 6am on some occasions without much interference from the guards in Killarney. To be fair to other establishments, we’re are not talking about a lock in of a hand full of people, or staff and a friend or two after work. This was open premises trading away with on occasion a couple of hundred inside.
I couldn’t rationalise why the guards working nights tolerated this afterhours trade as the more alcohol people consumed, the more likely they were to end up in an altercation or a situation whereby it could lead to a public order incident. Guards would sit in the car across the road with patrons coming and going at all hours and no one paying a blind bit of notice. The only time the car would be absent from the town was when giving spins home to a large number of female patrons leaving the clubs. A Garda taxi service of sorts. Again something new that I hadn’t encountered on such a scale before.
The so few honest
Two Sergeants in Killarney Station were proactive in addressing late opening, as was my own Sergeant. However his view toward late opening changed after being told to fuck off out of a premises trading after hours by Inspector Barry O Rourke, who was present having a drink himself at the time. I had an almost surreal experience one night towards the end of 2009, where on entering a premises in full uniform, after hours, a number of Guards were present, yet nobody left.
Out of common courtesy for the member entering the place, at the very least as members of the public have the common sense to slip out the door, but nobody paid any notice. A direction had to be given to clear the place. Incredibly a number of days later this resulted in one of the members who was present virtually attacking me to the point of it almost becoming a physical altercation over me clearing the premises. “Who the fuck did I think I was”, this coming from a member with a little over three years’ service. It was like black was white and white was black, when it came to how things were to be done.
The Pulse Problem
I became more active in regards to policing and enforcing licensing laws towards the end of 2009 and in to 2010. Having found a number of establishments in breach of the licensing laws, all were initially given verbal warnings and cautions regarding their time keeping before any recommendation to prosecute was put forward. Something then came to my attention that left a very bitter taste in my mouth. While completing a file where there was a recommendation to prosecute for a breach of licensing offences, I discovered that a publican had several person identification numbers.
To explain this, think of a pulse identification number as being connected with one person. Any time that person comes to the attention of the Gardai, incidents are created and the person is searched for to see if they exist on pulse. If they are they are associated with the incident. If they do not exist on the system that a person identification record is created. On occasion mistakes can happen in that a surname may be spelt incorrectly or an incorrect date of birth or address is entered. The system does not permit a user to delete anything, so it can be amended with the correct information entered, or merged with the correct pulse identification number if one exists. Alternatively, if the record is completely incorrect or inaccurate, the pulse record may be marked as INVALID. This record remained on the system at the time with a big red block stating “This is an invalid record”
The reason I needed to explain this, is because the records that had been invalidated belonging to the publican, were not invalid records. They were very much valid records that had convictions arising out of trading after hours connected to them. But someone possibly a Garda in Killarney had intentionally marked these records as invalid thereby concealing the convictions, making it appear as if the publican had none. It made no sense for someone to do this as their log in credentials would be connected to the invalidation of the record. I did not have access to that.
There was a way to remove this anomaly, which was to have the records merged. So I compiled a detailed file of all the pulse person identification numbers and forwarded a report seeking to have the records rectified. I received no response to that report. Months later I submitted the file and report again seeking to have the records rectified. Again there was no response. Sometime after I submitted a third file and report to have the records rectified. However this time I stated that if the records were not rectified I would address this with an authority outside of Killarney. This time the report was answered. I was now to be disciplined for a breach of Garda Code Regulations.
Is anyone legit?
Around this time, in 2010 I had sought to identify what premises actually had an exemption order to trade until 2am in the morning. At the time the premises that were open almost 7 nights a week until 2am were The Grand Hotel, The Crypt, McSorleys, The Tattler Jack, Mustang Sallys and there were frequently events on the Gleaneagle Hotel. What was concerning is that there were no exemptions to be found for the majority of the premises that were open. Several reports were forwarded to try identify who has and has not an exemption order to trade. Incredibly, I discovered that there was none. None had been applied for by the premises that were trading late.
An exemption order which is an application a premises has to apply for in the district court if it intend to open until 2am. It costs in excess of €400 per night. Given the amount of hotels in Killarney and the amount of weddings held there every year, there should have been entire folders full of exemptions. Yet there wasn’t. This meant that any couple who paid the price of an exemption order to the hotel as part of the wedding package, did so, but the hotels appear to have simply kept the money and didn’t bother with the exemption and worked away. A fraudulent and criminal practice at best. Even the INEC with all the concerts and late functions, not a single exemption.
No Licenses at all
What I discovered next was far beyond belief. One premises, the Tattler Jack, a premises who had been trading 7 nights a week until 2am, outside of not having an exemption, the premises didn’t even have a liquor licence to trade at all. Of more concern were Garda members in the station were completing license inspections on premises after hours recording, No offence disclosed, all in order, yet the premises had no licence or an exemption order to trade at all.
What I happened upon by accident, or as a result of just doing my job was a systemic failure to address licensing laws in Killarney by An Garda Siochana. Certain publican’s appeared to be favoured by management and members in the station to the point of ethically compromising themselves. I was now for the first time the target of The Army Councils wrath for causing hassle regarding licencing law enforcement in Killarney. Several reports were forwarded to me with the words “For urgent explanation by return from Inspector Barry O Rourke.
It eventually led to a verbal confrontation in his office which resulted in me deciding to let this go. Despite being active in many other areas and countless successful criminal investigations, I was now known as a problem child. Or the liquor licensing guard. Colleagues were exceptionally stand offish, you felt isolated and there was no shortage of guards to tell me “the chief will only get ya in the end”, a reference to a publican not the Chief Superintendent.
Sitting in a public order wagon at 1.45am on a the May Bank holiday weekend, Inspector Barry O Rourke pulled up and ordered us out to patrol CastleIsland. A questionable decision given the need for a public order wagon in the town on such a busy night, but perhaps ensuring favoured publicans trading as they pleased was more important than the public and Garda member’s safety on the streets.
I sat in a marked patrol car one night and couldn’t believe it when a male jumped on the bak of the car, ran up on to the roof and down the bonnet of the car. He was in the company of an off duty guard in the station. I arrested the male, and such was the apathy for me at the time the off duty member was telling me to leave the male off, cop myself on. This in full view of hundreds of members of the public. On unit nights out, for the most part you weren’t asked to go because the premises frequented was a favoured on where free drink would be available. I remember even sitting at a table with a civilian friend of mine meeting members from the station who were out themselves, who mocked and jeered the liquor licensing guard, sure why don’t ya leave the favoured publicans alone, they look after the guards. Sitting in the car on nights, your constantly mocked and told “your should call in to the Chief, he will look after ya”.
After the Exodus of the guilty
Following an investigation in to bullying of Garda members in Killarney Garda Station, suddenly and without warning there was a mass exodus of The Army Council from Killarney in November/December 2011. A new Superintendent took over for a very short time. Michael O Donovan. He asked me to stay behind following a briefing and for the first time in two and a half years, this man commended me on my attempts to address the licensing laws in Killarney. He was fully aware of what was going on, as this had been going on for years. He offered encouragement and support and was firmly of the belief that the public had an entitlement to be protected from themselves in circumstances whereby people sometimes don’t know when to call it a night and go home. He was aware of harm befalling sons, brothers and husbands after leaving premises open after hours in Killarney. I was aware myself of mother and wives calling the station telling guards their families were being ruined by the late nights.
In December 2011, a premises called The Porter House opened in Killarney as a restaurant. It traded alcohol and had a regular bar that you would see in any public house. Coming in to Christmas and over the New Year the premises under the guise of a restaurant traded as a bar or a licensed premises. I discovered in early January 2012 that the premises in fact had no liquor licence at all to trade. None. There had been several inspections carried out by Garda members and these had all been recorded on pulse as no offence disclosed. These were essentially false records. Offences had been committed but recorded stating the opposite.
On the direction of Superintendent Michael O Donovan, a warrant was issued and the premises was searched and alcohol was seized as it had in effect been operating as a sheeben. Following the discovery of two premises trading without any liquor license, I carried out a review of every shop, off-licence, bar, hotel restaurant etc in Killarney. In all there was almost 130 premises who should have had a license. By the time the review was concluded almost 30 premises were found to be trading without any licenses at all. One would have thought that this would have drawn favourable commentary, however it didn’t as Superintendent Michael O Donovan retired very early on in 2012, and soon old practice were adopted within the station again.
The System fails
Files had been completed since 2009 with a recommendation to prosecute. However for favoured publicans, these either never made it to court or service of the summons was delayed long enough for the matters to struck out in court. It should also be mentioned that when the matter of the Porter House was brought before the District Court for hearing, the Judge James O Connor who is from the same parish as the publican, should have excused himself from the hearing of the case. He chose not to. He also cleared the court for the hearing of the case, including the journalists there on the day. He even cleared a Revenue Officer once she had given evidence of there being no liquor licence or restaurant licence in force. The matter was struck out for not having a district court number on the warrant, and the Judge refused to accept the Garda and Revenue evidence.
There is a deeply concerning undertone of unease when you witness this type of stuff happening. When the law treats all people equally, but some more equally than others. This causes a deep feeling of distress and uncertainty. A feeling of isolation that you carry with you while you drive home after work. Having colleagues tell you this won’t work out well for you. Refuse to accompany you when you enter licensed premises, cause they think “yer mans sound”. One can’t help starting to have to look over your own shoulder at those who are supposed to have you back. That feeling only gets worse over time, when circumstances within the Garda station lead you to fear the people there, more than those who commit crime outside.
Up to this point in attempting to address the licensing laws in Killarney had been very much a fruitless exercise. Just from lost revenue alone to the government, the number of exemptions not being applied for at in excess of €400 a night, for premises that were open seven nights a week, plus all the weddings, special events concerts etc, those figures increase to a point where it becomes very significant, roads, schools and hospitals kind of significant. But what about the people leaving these premises at 6am in the morning, what could go wrong there.
Unfortunately, one family discovered exactly what harm is caused in July 2012. On a morning cycle a father was killed by a drive who had left Killarney after drinking there after hours. Up to this point every attempt had been made to address licensing to a point whereby something like this should not have happened. Looking back at it now, in the aftermath of this death, there was a little more interest in clearing premises on time when it was believed the driver MAY have been drinking after hours in Killarney. However this didn’t last.
I’d like to say this is where the story ends, unfortunately it’s only just an introduction.
May I please ask if you would like to support me, please share this post with others.
Thank you so much for giving me so much of your time. This has been a very hard blog to write. If ya made it to the end, wow, thank you.
Keep the faith
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