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Suspension of gardaí strongly criticised by Limerick garda representatives

Suspended members have been left in the dark while suspended from duty, the GRA conference heard.

File image.
File image.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

MEMBERS OF THE Garda Representative Association (GRA) have strongly criticised an ongoing investigation into allegations of alleged corruption in Munster. 

Speaking at the GRA conference in Killarney, members of the association spoke out about the impact on the work of officers.

A wide-ranging National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) probe among gardaí stationed in the mid-west has been ongoing in recent years.   

There are two investigations: one focused on alleged garda collusion with a crime gang and another into the alleged cancelling of traffic tickets for members of the public.

A number of gardaí have been suspended over the so-called ‘squaring’ of traffic tickets since November 2020, but the GRA has claimed that these members have not received any information on the progress of the investigation. 

Cathal O’Gorman, a member of the Limerick GRA, called on Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to conduct a review of issues around the suspension of the gardaí in question, and for that report to be published as soon as possible. 

Tabling an emergency motion at the conference, O’Gorman said that there was a need to refrain from suspending members of the force “and placing a far greater emphasis on retention of members in the workplace”.

“On November 7, 2020 humanity died in An Garda Síochána with the suspending of our colleagues in the Southern Region,” O’Gorman said. 

One of the members had just returned to the force after a long illness, he said – while two others were on sick leave after their Garda vehicle was struck by another vehicle while on duty. 

O’Gorman said his suspended colleagues had been left in the dark on progress of any investigation and that there appeared to be an approach to their cases of ‘guilty until proven innocent’.

“A year has passed and what has happened and nothing has happened in the intervening period – no interview, no arrest, no phone call, no text message, not a word. 

“Not a shred of evidence has been put those members, what is going on? Our colleagues have been stripped of their warrant cards, stripped of their jobs, stripped of their dignity, stripped financially – they have been left ostracised.”

O’Gorman said that the suspensions of such members had undermined the force and urged his GRA colleagues to support the emergency motion.

“Please, in the name of God, let our colleagues back to work so they can serve our communities without fear or favour. 

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“Communities matter, so do we, so does our mental health, our welfare our dignity and our integrity.”

Brian Dwyer, a garda stationed in Limerick, also called for action to be taken. The officers in question, he said, were “hurting, they’re hurting bad”.

The GRA today voted unanimously for a review of the suspension process and the publication of the subsequent report’s findings.

The president of the GRA, Frank Thornton, who is a Garda in Limerick city, said gardaí are entitled to the presumption of innocence. He called for transparency in the process.

He echoed his colleagues’ comments and said guards are simply notified they are on suspension and are given little other information.

Commissioner Drew Harris is not attending the conference as he is at an Interpol conference this week. 

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