Five Criminal Asset Bureau officers have claimed the State has refused to pay them the same financial allowance paid to other non-garda officers for carrying out certain dangerous duties on behalf of the bureau.
The five, who work as forensic accountants and financial crime analysists, claim that allowances of €19,000 per year over their salary are paid to CAB officers who have been seconded from Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, and Customs and Excise.
The allowance, they claim, is to mark the nature of the work conducted by the CAB.
The five officers cannot be identified for legal reasons and have been at the bureau for a long number of years.
The five say that they routinely carry out their duties, often during anti-social hours, for CAB including attending search operations, preparing court documents, attending interviews with dangerous criminals, and giving evidence at court cases on behalf of CAB.
They claim the duties they carry out are no different from the duties carried out by the other civil servants. In 2008, the five made a claim to their Minister for Justice in respect of the allowance.
However, the Minister informed them that the Department of Finance was not persuaded their work exposed them to field work and the risk that accompanies it to the extent that it could be compared to other bureau staff.
An allowance of €9,500 per year to the five was sanctioned in 2008.
In proceedings against the Minister, the five CAB officers claim that they have been discriminated against in respect of the allowance.
They seek orders directing the Minister to pay them the allowance paid to the other non-Garda CAB officers plus arrears.
They also seek declarations including that they are entitled to be paid the same allowance currently paid to CAB officers seconded from Revenue, Customs and the Dept of Social Protection.
The Minister, represented by Peter Ward SC, denies the claims and says the five are not entitled to the payment of the allowance.
The State rejects claims that the five have been discriminated against, and say they have been paid in accordance with the terms and conditions of their appointment.
In 2011, the five had received an increased allowance of €9,500 per year, which they never formally accepted, which is the rate payable to the those from the Chief State Solicitor's office working for CAB.
The defendant also says the claims are misconceived in law and are statute barred.
Opening the case Benedict Ó Floinn SC, instructed by solicitor Peter Dempsey for the five CAB officers, told the court that it was with "enormous sadness" that his clients had brought the action.
However, it is his client's case that they were entitled to the same allowance as colleagues they worked "shoulder to shoulder" with.
As part of CAB's public service, counsel said those working for the bureau find themselves in situations of extreme peril, and his client's role when on raids, in court or attending interviews brought them face to face with some very dangerous criminals.
Counsel said it was their case that the five have gone on many raids. In 2008 alone, counsel said that it was estimated the plaintiffs had attended 141 of the 200 raids or searches conducted by CAB.
Counsel said that the men's application for the allowance in 2008 was supported by the then Bureau Chief and now retired Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony who counsel said had expanded the plaintiff's role within CAB.
The action, before Mr Justice Senan Allen, continues.