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A stock image of a Road Policing Garda. Shutterstock/lensmen

Limerick Gardaí: Lack of clarity on discretion causing 'utter confusion' in garda ranks

The investigation into garda road policing in Limerick began in November 2019.

A GROUP REPRESENTING gardaí in Limerick city has claimed there is fear and confusion in frontline ranks over the use of discretion.

Sources in Limerick have said there is a serious risk of an industrial relations dispute in the area as anger grows.

The comments come as gardaí were directed by Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys to use discretion in their dealings with publicans.

The local Garda Representative Association group contacted The Journal and in an unusual move issued a statement explaining their position.

As revealed yesterday five Road Policing Unit gardaí, stationed at Henry Street Garda Station, are suspended as part of an investigation into the cancellation of penalty point offences. They have not been charged with any offence.

As many as 200 gardaí, and an unknown number of members of the public, are the subject of the investigation which began in November 2019.

Minister Niall Collins, solicitor Dan O’Gorman and the President of the GRA Frank Thornton yesterday raised serious concerns about discretion and have referenced the Limerick investigation by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

In a strongly-worded statement, the Limerick Divisional GRA grouping has called on the local Chief Superintendent Ger Roche to clarify the use of discretion. 

“We are now directed to use discretion under various other legislation. There is utter confusion and fear in Limerick, with members finding themselves in a situation where they are now directed to use discretion in one set of circumstances but not another.

“There is a real fear of internal discipline, criminal investigation and potential imprisonment involved. Society has a right to have trust and confidence in their police force. It is they, we serve. Morale is on the floor.

“Correspondence has been submitted by the GRA in Limerick to our Chief Superintendent seeking urgent clarity on the use of discretion which has been a cornerstone of the policing response for almost 100 years,” the statement said. 

The GRA grouping in the city revealed the nature of the investigation which they say is separate from another investigation into alleged malpractice which the NBCI is also conducting in the area.   

“For 99 years, members of An Garda Síochána have used discretion responsibly, competently without fear or favour.

“Since November 2019 a criminal investigation has been ongoing relating to what the GRA in Limerick believe is unequivocally related to the use of discretion in minor offences under the Road Traffic Act.

“Approximately 50 Gardai have been interviewed with the final number expected to be close to 200. This does not take into account, retired Gardai and members of the public,” the statement added. 

An Garda Síochána refused to comment.