Former Garda brings High Court challenge over decision to dismiss him

ireland
Former Garda Brings High Court Challenge Over Decision To Dismiss Him Former Garda Brings High Court Challenge Over Decision To Dismiss Him
The action has been brought by Paul O'Meara, who the court heard joined An Garda Siochana in 2016. Photo: PA Images.
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A former probationary Garda has launched a High Court challenge aimed at overturning the Garda Commissioner's decision to dismiss him.

The action has been brought by Paul O'Meara, who the court heard joined An Garda Siochana in 2016, before completing his training some 12 months later.

He then commenced a two-year period serving as a probationary Garda.

In 2019, and in accordance with Garda Regulations, a report regarding his suitability to become an effective and efficient member of An Garda Siochana was prepared by a senior Garda.

That report, which contained several complaints against the Garda, recommended that he was not suitable for retention in An Garda Siochana, and the Commissioner should consider dispensing with Mr O'Meara's services.

Probationary period

He claims that it was further recommended in 2019 that his probationary period be extended for several months.

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His probationary period was further extended on several more occasions until earlier this year, when he was informed by Garda senior management that his services were to be dispensed with.

He was formally dismissed from An Garda Siochana on September 9th last.

Represented by Mark Harty SC, Mr O'Meara claims that the decision to dismiss him was unlawful, and breached both fair procedures and his constitutional rights.

The Commissioner was not entitled to extend his clients' probationary period, it is argued.

Under the regulations, a Garda's probationary period can only be extended in exceptional circumstances, and can only be done once, it is alleged. Probationary periods cannot exceed a total of three years, it is also submitted.

Claims

Mr O'Meara further claims he could not be dismissed from his position in the manner that he was last September, and that he should have been treated as if his probationary period had expired.

He also claims that the Commissioner was not entitled to seek the Minister for Justice's consent to extend his probationary period without any notification to Mr O'Meara.

The Commissioner's failure to notify him meant he could not be heard in relation to whether the Minister should consent to extending his probation.

As a result, Mr O'Meara claims the decision to dismiss him is unlawful and he has brought judicial review proceedings against the Commissioner, the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General.

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Counsel also told the court that the applicant was in the same situation as another Garda, who in a case which raised almost identical issues, was successful in a High Court challenge against dismissal from An Garda Siochana.

Mr O’Meara seeks various orders and declarations, including an order quashing the Commissioner's decision dismissing him from An Garda Siochana, and that he be reinstated as a member.

He also seeks a declaration that his probationary period has expired and his appointment to An Garda Siochana is confirmed by operation of law.

The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who on an ex-parte basis, granted the applicant permission to bring his action. The matter will return before the High Court in January.

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