Det Sgt White set to keep Garda pension

Mon, Aug 21, 2006, 01:00

Det Sgt John White, who is currently suspended, will not lose his pension even if he is fired from the Garda Síochána, after being linked to serious criminality by the Morris tribunal, it has emerged.

Sgt White is seeking the full pension payable on 30 years of service because he believes the last five years, during which he has been suspended from the force, should be counted towards his pensionable service.

If he is not awarded these five years, he will have just over 26 years of service, well short of the 30 years needed for a full pension.

Speaking to Sligo-Donegal radio station Ocean FM at the weekend, Det Sgt White said: "I'm going on September 12th, on pension as far as I know. I do not see how they could possibly take my pension from me. I have paid into that pension every week for 32 years. That is my money in the pension.

"It would be very wrong for someone to come along and say we will now leave him destitute just because of something that Judge Morris said."

He claimed the Morris findings were based on "hearsay, innuendo and rumour".

Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy is returning early from his holidays to Garda Headquarters in Dublin, this morning to deal with the repercussions of Mr Justice Morris's latest three reports.

One of the first issues he will decide on is Det Sgt White's future. Informed sources said that even if Det Sgt White is fired, he would be entitled to a pension based on his 26 years of service. This would mean he would get a pension of almost 40 per cent of his last salary, rather than the 50 per cent he would have received with the full 30 years of service.

He would also be entitled to a gratuity payment only slightly lower than the estimated €85,000 he stands to receive if his five-year period spent on suspension is counted as pensionable service.

He has been suspended for five years and two months on 90 per cent salary, meaning he has been paid in the region of €200,000 in that period.

Det Sgt White has been implicated by the Morris tribunal in the planting of a shotgun in a Travellers camp and the planting of a hoax device on a telecommunications mast. Both incidents took place in Co Donegal in the 1990s.

He was suspended as investigations began which later resulted in two prosecutions against him. He was acquitted on both occasions.

Sgt White is claiming that because he was cleared at trial, the five years for which he was suspended should be added to his pensionable service. In the normal course of events, a member of the Garda Síochána cleared of wrongdoing would be reinstated and his or her period of suspension added to pensionable service.

However, given the scathing criticism of him in the Morris reports, Det Sgt White's reinstatement looks very unlikely.

The Irish Times understands that although he has applied to retire, a decision on that request has not yet been made.

His pension cannot be finalised until the manner of his exit from the force is decided.