Gsoc to appoint independent examiner following Gerard Hutch party controversy

Senior Gsoc investigator resigned after attending party to celebrate acquittal of Dublin criminal in Regency Hotel murder trial

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) is set to undergo a root and branch review, including ongoing vetting of its personnel, in the wake of the controversy around one of its investigators attending a party for Dublin criminal Gerard Hutch.

Minister for Justice Simon Harris said the review into Gsoc’s “processes and procedures” will be carried out by an independent examiner, yet to be selected. It was likely to begin at the conclusion of the Garda’s inquiry into the attendance of the Gsoc investigator at the Hutch house party, he said.

That social gathering was held just hours after Gerry Hutch was acquitted by the Special Criminal Court for the 2016 Regency Hotel murder of David Byrne. The investigator told colleagues about the party the next day. When his colleagues reported their concerns to senior Gsoc personnel an internal inquiry was begun and the investigator opted to resign.

The man worked as a criminal investigator for decades in another country before coming to Ireland to work for Gsoc in more recent years. He worked on the Gsoc inquiry into the death by suicide of Supt Colm Fox, who led the Garda investigation into the Kinahan-Hutch feud Regency Hotel attack.


When Mr Harris was asked if he could assure people no confidential information held by Gsoc was passed to the Hutch organised crime group, he said the purpose of the Garda inquiry already under way was to determine if any suspected criminality was identified.

“Should a scenario [like the sharing of information with the Hutch gang] have taken place, that would be a very, very serious matter and the appropriate people to investigate that are the gardaí,” he said. However, he also stressed the Garda’s work was not concluded, meaning no findings have been arrived at, adding Gsoc was co-operating in full with the Garda.

Mr Harris added while concerns were initially expressed that Gsoc would be left to investigate itself over the Hutch party incident “that was never going to happen, nor would it ever have been acceptable”.

“There is only one organisation that could investigate any potential criminal wrongdoing and that’s An Garda Síochána and we need to allow them the space to do that,” he said, speaking to the media at the annual delegate conference of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) in Westport, Co Mayo, on Wednesday.

It was clear to him “the same rigour” was being applied to Gsoc in the case of its former investigator as would be applied to any Garda member around whom concerns emerged. He believed that “should give all of us as citizens confidence”. However, under legislation already prepared to create a new Garda oversight system, consideration could be given to further checks and balances for those oversight agencies.

While some Garda members had complained there were no oversight structures in place to examine the work of Gsoc, Mr Harris said whenever possible criminal wrongdoing was identified, the Garda would always investigate. This, he said, also applied to anyone working in any part of the criminal justice system. They would be investigated “without fear or favour”, as was now the case with the Gsoc investigator who attended the Hutch party.

“It does raise interesting questions for Gsoc, and perhaps for others to also consider, about ongoing vetting,” he said of continuous in-service vetting for “sensitive” jobs. However, Mr Harris dismissed the suggestion that Gsoc had become something of a retirement home for police officers from other countries. He believe candidates will specific skill sets for “sensitive and important” investigations were being recruited by Gsoc, an organisation he had “confidence” in.

However, even in An Garda Síochána “things have sometimes gone wrong” and it was very hard to avoid that from time to time. It was crucial “robust processes” were in place to respond when necessary.

Mr Harris said he had met on Tuesday with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and on Wednesday morning with the commissioners at the head of Gsoc. He had discussed the Hutch party debacle with them and he was “left in not doubt” it was being taken very seriously by both Gsoc and the Garda. And he believed it was “absolutely appropriate” to refer the matter to the Garda so it could determined if any possibly criminal matters arose for full investigation.

He was “satisfied” Gsoc had taken “very swift action”. He had sought a report from Gsoc last weekend and received that on Monday evening. Gsoc had also referred the matter to the Garda and its National Bureau of Criminal Investigation was reviewing the incident. If any findings suggested a criminal investigation would take place, the Garda would move to that phase.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times