A RETIRED doctor has claimed that a teenager with special needs was stripped and whipped at a garda station in Limerick more than a decade ago.
Richard O’Flaherty made his comments this Wednesday as he addressed a meeting of the Oireachtas Justice committee at Leinster House.
Using parliamentary privilege, Dr O’Flaherty claimed the then 17-year-old was arrested after he borrowed his father’s car.
“He was taken in [to the garda station], stripped of his pants and underpants, whipped with a belt and told that they arrested his dad also and gave him the same thing,” he said adding that the boy had “the body of a 17-year-old [and] the mind of an eight-to-10 year-old.”
Dr O’Flaherty, who was speaking during a hearing on proposed changes to the Garda Siochana Act, told members of the committee he forwarded a complaint about the alleged incident to former Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
Dr O’Flaherty, who is a member of the Justice4All campaign, also claimed that a woman went into a diabetic coma in custody in Limerick 11 years ago after she was denied medication and prevented from going to the toilet.
The chairman of the committee, Deputy David Stanton, accepted Dr O’Flaherty’s allegations were disturbing, but asked that he confine his comments to changes to the Garda Siochana Act.
A number of committee members, including Limerick TD Niall Collins, proposed that Dr O’Flaherty be allowed to continue but they were overruled by Deputy Stanton.
Concerns raised by Dr O’Flaherty over the treatment of persons in custody were previously raised in a Dail debate on the Garda Siochana Amendment Bill last Summer when Deputies Luke Ming’ Flanagan, and Finian McGrath used privilege to raise the accusations.
However, speaking to the Limerick Leader last August, the chairman of the Limerick City joint policing committee, Cllr Michael Hourigan, said he would be “very surprised” if this was happening.
“I know the present Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, and I don’t think that kind of behaviour would be tolerated from any member of An Garda Siochanna. I don’t believe under his watch, it would be tolerated,” he said then.
The Garda Press Office said the allegations are a matter for Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission.