Gardaí claim their continued suspensions are unlawful

Gardaí Claim Their Continued Suspensions Are Unlawful
The suspensions are in relation to investigations into the alleged "squaring" of fixed charge penalty notices.
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High Court reporters

Four gardaí have brought separate High Court cases alleging their continued suspensions, arising out of investigations into the alleged “squaring” of fixed charge penalty notices by a superintendent, are unlawful.

They are each asking the court to quash the Garda Commissioner’s November 2020 decisions to suspend them with basic pay and his later decisions to extend those suspensions. All four deny any wrongdoing.


Garda Paul Baynham, who was attached to the Roads Policing Unit at Henry Street Garda station in Limerick from 2018 was granted permission on Monday to pursue judicial review of the suspension decisions relating to him.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan directed that the similar cases of Garda Alan Griffin, Garda Niall Deegan and Garda John Shanahan – all of the same Henry Street road policing unit– will progress through the courts alongside Gda Baynham’s, which has been adjourned until next month.

The respondent Garda Commissioner, Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General were not notified of the application or present in court on Monday.

Senior counsel Mark Harty, with barrister James Kane, representing each of the gardaí, said a fifth garda’s civil case was being withdrawn.


In each of the remaining actions, the gardaí say their personal phones were in October 2019 seized, pursuant to warrants, as part of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s probe into wrongdoing alleged against now-retired Limerick superintendent Eamon O’Neill.

The investigation concerns the alleged “squaring” of fixed charge notices, where these would be not written up, not prosecuted in court or cancelled on the system.

Mr O’Neill denies all wrongdoing. He faces charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice, which has yet to be heard at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court. Four other gardaí, who are not those bringing these judicial review actions, are contesting similar counts. All relate to a three-year period leading to September 2019.

The four gardaí bringing the High Court case say they have at no time been arrested or charged.


They say they were told the bureau was only looking for material connected to Superintendent O’Neill. They were later interviewed under caution and instructed to hand over their notebooks, they claim.

On November 7th, they were each informed without prior warning that they were being suspended for “alleged inappropriate interference” in the administration and processing of fixed charge penalty notices over a two-year period from December 2017, the gardaí say.

Gda Baynham and Garda Deegan say they were also accused of  “allegedly receiving a ‘gift’ as a reward” for the alleged inappropriate interference.

At no point prior to this four’s suspension was any allegation of wrongdoing put to them, they claim.


They were interviewed in the spring of last year but have been provided with no further details about the allegations against them since then, they claim.

The gardaí say they are suffering financial loss of about €10,000 per year. Each attests to significant damage to their mental health.

They say their suspensions are now lengthy and have the “hallmarks of a punitive, rather than holding, measure”.

Their actions allege their ongoing suspensions have been rendered unlawful due to delays in the criminal investigation and/or disciplinary proceedings.

The Garda commissioner, they say, acted beyond his powers and in breach of fair procedures in suspending the gardaí before putting any allegations of wrongdoing to them. He was also acting “irrationally” and “unreasonably” in failing to put any allegations to them until the spring of 2022.

The gardaí want the court to quash the decisions to suspend them and to strike down a regulation of the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations of 2007.

They say the regulation empowering the commissioner to suspend a member where it is in the “interests of An Garda Síochána” is a discretion and power wider than that contemplated by the 2005 Garda Síochána Act.

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