Case to halt insubordination investigation resolved after charges dropped

High-ranking army officer had been charged with insubordination towards his superior

A High Court action in which a high-ranking army officer sought to halt an investigation against him over alleged insubordination has been settled.

Lieutenant Colonel Fintan McCarthy, legal officer at the Defence Forces training centre in the Curragh Camp in Kildare, had been charged with insubordination towards his superior, the Defence Forces Director of Legal Services, Colonel Jerry Lane. Lt Col McCarthy was alleged to have accused Col Lane of abusing his rank.

On Wednesday, the court was told the charges have been withdrawn against Lt Col McCarthy.

Alan Philip Brady BL, instructed by Andrew Murnaghan of KM Solicitors, said the case could therefore be struck out with costs to be adjudicated in default of agreement.


Mr Justice Charles Meenan struck out the case. The court also heard the matter had gone through the independent Alternative Disputes Resolution process.

In May of last year, the judge had urged the parties to attempt to resolve the matter through industrial relations machinery and to “step back and see what vista is going to be facing them” if the matter had to go through the court system.

For that reason, he adjourned Lt Col McCarthy’s application seeking leave of the court to bring judicial review proceedings and they were adjourned a number of times subsequently.

In his action, Lt Col McCarthy said that in October 2019 he lodged a complaint with the General Officer Commanding that Col Lane had abused his rank and authority by removing a course available to officers with the US Judge Advocate General Corps.

Lt Col McCarthy also claimed Col Lane displayed unacceptable behaviour towards Defence Forces legal officers and had discontinued the availability of overseas service with UNIFIL for legal officers.

Lt Col McCarthy said three weeks later he withdrew his complaint after he learned his complaint had been reclassified in such a way which he says would have trivialised the seriousness of his complaint.

Col Lane sent him an email the following February saying his (McCarthy’s) “misbehaviour and your failure” to correct his insubordinate behaviour for four months raised questions about Lt Col McCarthy’s “judgment, failed professional standards and your manifest lack of respect and integrity”.

The following month, Col Lane told him he would seek to bring formal insubordination charges against him unless he received an unequivocal apology, an undertaking not to repeat his behaviour and to “positively engage” in future.

He gave Lt Col McCarthy until 4.30pm on May 7th, 2020 to do so.

Lt Col McCarthy then submitted a “redress of wrongs” complaint to his General Officer Commanding and also made a protected disclosure about what he said were the actions of Col Lane.

In June 2020, Col Lane submitted formal military charges against Lt Col McCarthy alleging, among other things, insubordination and making a false accusation against a superior officer.

In April last year, the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces appointed an officer of the rank of colonel to investigate the insubordination charges against him.

Lt Col McCarthy then sought to bring High Court proceedings alleging the appointment of the investigator by the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) was unlawful, unjustified and in contravention of fair procedures and natural justice.

It was before the court several times between May last year and Thursday.

The defendants, the Minister for Defence, the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support), Ireland and the Attorney General, denied the claims.