Failure to establish reasons for Garda Superintendent's 'inexcusable', court told

The failure to establish the truth of the reasons for a garda superintendent's suspension is inexcusable, the High Court has heard.
Failure to establish reasons for Garda Superintendent's 'inexcusable', court told
Supt O'Neill, who is stationed in Roxboro Road, Limerick, says he was arrested after he awoke in his bedroom on the morning of May 15 last year to find several gardaí around him. Stock image
Supt O'Neill, who is stationed in Roxboro Road, Limerick, says he was arrested after he awoke in his bedroom on the morning of May 15 last year to find several gardaí around him. Stock image

The failure to establish the truth of the reasons for a garda superintendent's suspension is inexcusable, the High Court has heard.

The claim was made on behalf of Supt Edmund Anthony O'Neill (53) who says the allegations for which he was suspended are false.

He was suspended a year ago when he was arrested and questioned over allegations he leaked confidential information and was in the presence of another senior officer who allegedly snorted cocaine in a pub.

He says they are "preposterous and mischievous in the extreme".

He is seeking an order requiring the Garda Commissioner and the State to lift the suspension, first imposed in May last year and extended a number of times since, so that when he is medically fit to do so, he can return to duty.

The defendants oppose the application.

Establishing the truth

The court heard that last November, following the deterioration of his mental health, he was admitted to hospital where he underwent treatment for three months and is still on medication.

Opening the hearing of an injunction application restraining the continued suspension, Louis McEntagart SC with Breffni Gordon BL said despite a large amount of correspondence with the defendants there had still been not been a serious effort to establish the truth even though it is public policy that allegations such as this be dealt with expeditiously.

The failure to establish the truth, more than a year later, was inexcusable, it was claimed.

In his action, Supt O'Neill, who is stationed in Roxboro Road, Limerick, says he was arrested after he awoke in his bedroom on the morning of May 15 last year to find several gardaí around him.

He was taken to Athlone Garda Station where he was questioned in what he said was a "shambolic" interview process.

There were headlines in the national media that day about the arrest and he was later released and served with a suspension notice.

Listening device

It was alleged he disclosed information whereby he allegedly told a garda being investigated by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation that a listening device had been placed on his car. That garda has since been charged with serious criminal conduct.

Supt O'Neill says he never did so and fully co-operated with that investigation in relation to the alleged leaking.

It was also alleged he was present in the Hurler's Bar in Limerick on January 9, 2019 when a garda inspector colleague was alleged to have taken cocaine in his presence.

In relation to that allegation, he says the other officer did not take any cocaine and that officer was "the least likely candidate to take or ingest an illicit substance".

CCTV camera footage showed that the height of what is alleged against the other officer is that he is seen wiping his nose, he says. The officer has not been charged and it was reasonable to conclude there was no evidence of cocaine use, he says.

The case continues before Mr Justice Senan Allen.

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