Wednesday 26 October 2016

Photo row garda 'told to appear in picture by a senior colleague'


Gardai Kerrie Sullivan, Catherine McGuinness
Gardai Kerrie Sullivan, Catherine McGuinness

THE community garda who took part in a controversial photocall organised by the Yes campaign in the Marr- iage Equality Referendum was asked to do so by a senior colleague.

Senior garda management have launched an investigation into the circumstances that led to Gda Kerrie Sullivan taking part in the event alongside retired Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin described the photo as a "mistake", while members of the No campaign said it was "alarming".


Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said her officer had taken part in the photocall outside Pearse Street Garda Station "in good faith", but added that it should not have happened.

Ms O'Sullivan said it was "inappropriate" for members of the force to do so, and that the incident will now be investigated.

"It is inappropriate that members of An Garda Siochana would find themselves in that situation," she said.

"But it's something that happened, it happened in good faith and we will be looking into the circumstances that gave rise to it."

She added members of the force are apolitical.

The Herald has learned that a senior officer based in Pearse Street Garda Station directed Gda Sullivan to take part in the photocall after a request was received by the Yes Equality group.

Sources said the officer may now face an inquiry into the incident.

A number of gardai who were on duty at the time will now prepare reports for Garda HQ.

Gardai yesterday also denied that a uniformed officer was distributing Yes badges during a voter registration drive in Cork for next month's referendum.

Officers insisted the uniformed garda was at the event in University College Cork (UCC) simply to supervise a supplementary voter registration event in line with normal duties.

Sources emphatically denied that the officer distributed Yes badges or in any way endorsed either side of the referendum campaign.

The garda statement came after photos circulated on social media showing the officer sitting at a desk in the Boule Library in UCC near a pile of Yes badges and behind a UCC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transsexual (LGBT) banner.


It has emerged that the badges were placed on the desk by the UCC Students' Union in accordance with a campus ballot mandating public support for a Yes vote.

University sources confirmed that the Yes badges were distributed by Students' Union volunteers, and not by the garda on duty.

College sources said the officer was on duty and had never indicated any support for either side of the campaign.

Gardai confirmed that there is a legal requirement for officers to be present for the compilation of any supplementary voter register.

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