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Garda was removed from task force due to relationship with woman from criminal family, court hears

GArda Joseph Kavanagh was removed from the Special Crime Task Force last December after gardaí had searched his partner’s apartment.

HC W Murphy 1 Source: William Murphy

A GARDA HAS claimed before the High Court that he has been wrongfully removed from a special task force that tackles organised crime due to his relationship with a woman whose family members were involved in serious criminality.

The claims have been made by Garda Joseph Kavanagh who in proceedings against the Garda Commissioner wants the court to make orders restoring him to the Special Crime Task Force (SCTF)

Represented by Paul McGarry SC, appearing with Breffni Gordon Bl, Garda Kavanagh says the actions taken against him are “unjustifiable and unfair” and he fears they will have adverse consequences for his career as a garda.

Garda Kavanagh says that he was removed from SCTF on 5 December last hours after gardaí attended at, and searched, his partner’s apartment where he had spent the night.

Kavanagh said in a sworn statement that he has been seeing the woman for four years and she has “no connection whatsoever with any person involved in criminality”.

She is “a respected member of the community”, “deplores crime and criminality”, and is “a law-abiding citizen”, he said.

Two members of her immediate family, who are now deceased, were involved in criminal activity.

Garda Kavanagh said nothing illegal or illicit was discovered in the search, which was conducted on the morning of the 5th.

Hours later Garda Kavanagh was called to a meeting with his superiors where he was told that he “needed time away from SCTF because of what happened that morning”.

Relationship

That decision, he was told, was made by an Assistant Commissioner of the force.

During the meeting reference was made to his relationship with the woman, which he says was offered as a reason for his removal from SCTF.

He says that nobody could impugn his partner’s reputation and the events amount to “an unjustified interference” with his personal life and his career.

He said that he was transferred to Ballyfermot to perform uniform duties.

He said since this incident he has been the subject of extremely derogatory terms on social media.

One example was a message on Whatsapp that said “member of SCTF caught in the scratcher with a major criminal”.

He has been a member of the force since 2007, has an unblemished record and has received numerous commendations.

He was also the first Garda to successfully complete the Advanced Undercover Course offered by the London Metropolitan Police Force.

In his proceedings Garda Kavanagh, who is stationed at Ballyfermot Garda Station orders that the Commissioner restore him to the task force.

He seeks several declarations including that he was wrongfully and unlawfully removed from SCTF, which is attached to the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

He also seeks declarations that his removal from the unit cannot be justified, was made in the absence of good reason, or was not done for the proper management or organisation of the police force in the state.

Kavanagh further seeks declarations that his removal from the unit amounts to a disciplinary procedure and that his rights under the European Convention of Human Rights have been breached.

The matter came before Justice Paul Gilligan at the High Court today who granted Kavanagh permission to serve short notice of the proceedings against the Commissioner.

The case was made returnable to next week.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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