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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 23 May 2001

Vol. 536 No. 6

Other Questions. - Garda Disciplinary Proceedings.

Tony Killeen

Ceist:

60 Mr. Killeen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the costs incurred by the State in defending an action (details supplied); the projected costs to the State of a further action being pursued by another party to the same incident; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11852/01]

Both actions referred to by the Deputy arose from the same incident in which two off duty Garda members were involved in a fracas outside a hotel in County Clare on 3 August 1993. As a result of the incident, both Garda members were prosecuted and found guilty in the District Court, on 11 May 1994, of common assault and drunk and disorderly behaviour. Both were fined.

In relation to the first case referred to by the Deputy, a dismissal order was made by the then Commissioner, with the consent of the then Minister, on 30 January 1995, dismissing the garda from the force with effect from 13 February 1995. The Commissioner maintained that the garda was unfit for retention. In July 1995, the garda concerned applied for a judicial review of the Commissioner's decision, maintaining that the Commissioner had acted unreasonably and not taken the full facts of the case into account when making his decision. The case was listed for hearing on 1 December 1999, when a settlement was reached on the basis of legal advice. As a result of the settlement, the garda obtained an order of certiorari quashing the decision and the dismissal order made by the Commissioner. The settlement also provided that the garda be reinstated and suspended pending the outcome of a sworn inquiry conducted in accordance with the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations, 1989. It was also agreed that the State would discharge the garda's costs. These amounted to £71,584. The total legal costs involved came to £81,746.

In the second case, the garda concerned was also dismissed by order of the Commissioner, with the consent of the then Minister, with effect from 7 October 1994. The then Commissioner was also of the view that the member was unfit for retention in the force. Legal proceedings were initiated in April 2000. The case has not come to trial and the Deputy will appreciate that, as it is still outstanding, I cannot discuss details of the case.

I thank the Minister for the information contained in the reply which to be fair is common knowledge. I agree that the question mainly concerns expenditure and compensation. Does the Minister agree that the full force of the State has been employed by the Garda in pursuing the individual gardaí concerned and that perhaps Garda management does not have any reason to be proud of its record in this regard? The process would benefit from some transparency. Does the Minister agree that the precedent set in the case of the first garda should be looked at carefully by the authorities in relation to the pending case?

This amounts to an unfair dismissals case and it would be quite premature and wrong of me to interfere in any way. We will, however, be taking legal advice on how the matter should proceed from here. It will be examined extremely carefully in accordance with the exigencies of the common good.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.

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