'Not for publication': Garda press office changed contradictory statement, expressed frustration

The garda press office changed a contradictory statement about alleged garda involvement in the midlands drug trade.

In a separate statement marked “not for publication”, the press office expressed frustration with The Ditch for both our pledge to name gardaí allegedly linked to organised crime and the fact we made “direct contact with a senior officer”.

Last week The Ditch named two gardaí identified in a garda intelligence report linking them to alleged involvement with drug dealing in Athlone.

‘You have attempted to make direct contact with a senior officer’

On 8 April, 2024, at 10.19 am, The Ditch sent an email requesting comment by 5pm from the garda press office about allegations ex-gardaí George Garvey and Tom Higgins were involved in criminality in the midlands. 

Just after 2pm the following day, the press office issued a contradictory statement that didn’t address the allegations against the two ex-gardaí.

“An Garda Síochána does not comment on named individuals including named gardaí or former gardaí who are now private citizens,” said a spokesperson.

The spokesperson went on to say that “the findings of the Disclosures Tribunal into allegations by garda Nicky Keogh are a matter of public record” – despite the force’s supposed policy of not commenting on named gardaí. 

The Ditch mentioned neither Keogh nor the tribunal in its request for comment. 

The Ditch responded later that day gave the garda press office an opportunity to reconsider its statement. 

“You say, ‘An Garda Síochána does not comment on named individuals including named Gardaí’, but then proceed to name ‘garda Nicky Keogh’ even though he did not feature in our request for comment,” said The Ditch in its reply.

The garda press office issued a new statement just before 4pm that day, which removed any reference to Nicky Keogh and simply referred to him as a “garda”. 

The garda press office statement also included a separate note for The Ditch.

It was marked “not for publication”.

“We are also aware that you have attempted to make direct contact with a senior officer and putting queries to them about certain serious allegations,” said the spokesperson referring to an email sent by The Ditch the previous day.

The email was to chief superintendent Aidan Glacken and asked him to explain inconsistencies in two statements he made about claims he failed to act on allegations of wrongdoing against Garvey in 2010.

The Ditch on Tuesday published a story on these inconsistencies.

The press office further expressed its frustration over a post from The Ditch’s X account days earlier that informed its readers that Garvey and Higgins would be named later that week.

The Ditch is also tweeting about publicly naming gardaí in relation to alleged links to organised crime, which are again serious allegations,” said the spokesperson.

The “not for publication” note also again named Nicky Keogh in an apparent further breach of An Garda Síochána’s policy of not commenting on named gardaí.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors