TWO OF THE 25 members of the gardaí currently suspended from duty have been suspended for the past seven years.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) described the seven-year delay in disciplinary proceedings as “nothing short of scandalous”.
In a letter to Solidarity TD Richard Boyd Barrett on foot of a Dáil question, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that one garda sergeant has been suspended from duty since 9 March 2010 and one garda suspended since 29 June 2010.
Minister Fitzgerald also confirmed that a prison officer has been suspended from duty on full pay since 8 July 2010 and has been paid €320,661 in salary to date.
The Tánaiste confirmed that a further three gardaí have been suspended since 2012 with two more gardaí and a sergeant suspended since 2013.
A further two gardaí and a reserve garda have been suspended since 2014 with another six gardaí suspended since 2015.
Last year, another four rank and file gardaí were suspended from duty along with one garda reserve and a sergeant. A further two gardaí have been suspended this year.
The amount paid out to the suspended gardaí since their suspensions from 2010 to February this year is estimated to be between €1.3m and €2m.
The estimate is based on published garda pay scales and the suspended gardaí receiving 75% of their pay – though from 31 January of this year, suspended gardaí remain on full basic pay after lobbying from the GRA.
A spokesman for the GRA yesterday described one garda being suspended for the past seven years as “nothing short of scandalous”.
He said: “Delay defeats equity and there is no greater example than a seven-year delay which does a disservice not just to the member and his family but to the disciplinary mechanisms of the entire Force.
Such delays are entirely avoidable if the basic rules of fairness and natural justice are adhered to as well as normative employment practises – as would be the case in any organisation.
The spokesman said that the GRA successfully negotiated that their suspended members be in receipt of full payment of their salary “because many of our suspended members were suffering undue financial hardship due to the inordinate delays it was and is taking to complete internal disciplinary investigations”.
He said “It is no one’s interest that these entirely unnecessary delays continue. The sooner such investigations are completed the sooner the Member can have finality and move forward – regardless of outcome.
“Furthermore, the tax payer should not have to fund any more than is necessary by virtue of senior garda management’s inability to adopt best expeditious practice when it comes to its disciplinary processes.”
In her letter to Deputy Boyd Barrett, Minister Fitzgerald said that the timelines for completion of investigation in each case is outside the control of the Commissioner as each case is different and may involve serious matters such as criminal or judicial review proceedings.
Minister Fitzgerald said that with regard to the reason for suspension in any particular case is a matter for the Commissioner “and it would not be appropriate for me, as Minister, to comment on individual cases”.
In relation to the prison officer suspended since July 2010, Minister Fitzgerald said: “An internal investigation was put on hold pending a full criminal investigation by An Garda Siochana and subsequent court case and the salary cost incurred was €320,661.”
A spokesman for the Department of Justice said yesterday: “A person is entitled to due process, presumed innocent until proven guilty and therefore can’t be punished by removing pay pending the outcome of an investigation.”.
The garda press office was last night still awaiting a response from the relevant garda department to queries on the figures, and a response to the GRA statement, and was not in a position to provide comment.