TD Clare Daly demands apology over drink-drive arrest leak
Independent TD Clare Daly has demanded an apology from the Garda Commissioner over the leaking of her arrest on suspicion of drink-driving.
A Garda Ombudsman inquiry found the release of information about her detention likely came from the gardai in an “unauthorised manner”.
Ms Daly was arrested shortly after midnight on January 29 2013 on Dublin’s South Circular Road, but was cleared of any wrongdoing after tests proved she was driving within the legal limits.
“I do expect an apology. The apology should be from the Garda Commissioner,” the TD said.
“The Commissioner personifies the force.
“As an absolute minimum this was done in a way to damage me, to distract from the work we were doing at the time on the penalty points controversy, to intimidate me.
“And it did infringe my right to privacy, that’s pretty serious stuff.”
The Garda watchdog found Ms Daly’s right to privacy and a presumption of innocence appear to have been infringed by the leaking of the story within hours of her arrest.
She is suing Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan over the leak.
Following widespread media coverage of the incident in day after her arrest, the Dublin North TD alleged gardai unlawfully briefed the media.
She also claimed a request, while briefly in custody at Kilmainham Garda station, that fellow TD Mick Wallace be contacted about her arrest was also leaked to journalists.
Twenty-four people accessed a report on Ms Daly’s arrest on the Garda’s Pulse computer system in the 12 hours after it happened.
The Garda Ombudsman also found four officers in Kilmainham accessed her Pulse ID, another in Pearse Street station and one in Coolock and one in Newbridge, where the officer claimed an interest in traffic incidents.
After a lengthy investigation, the watchdog said there is insufficient evidence of any criminal offence by any individual to warrant sending a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Ms Daly said there appeared to be a huge level of interest in the force in her arrest and it was a “talking point” and “unhealthy”.
“It’s obviously very worrying,” she said.
“We have to see this in the context of the climate at the time. The controversy around the penalty points issue.
“The unhealthy level of interest would be a concern.”
The Garda Ombudsman found it was “more likely than not” that details of the arrest were leaked by someone from within the force and that the information subsequently ended up in the hands of the media.
It was impossible to prove who divulged the information in the absence of a co-operating witness, a confession or other evidence, it said in a 15-page report on the allegations.
“The Ombudsman Commission is of the view that Deputy Daly was entitled to the presumption of innocence and that she had a right to privacy,” a spokeswoman said.
“These rights appear to have been infringed by the release of such information.”