The representative group for Garda sergeants and inspectors has criticised the “scandalous” manner in which information that an officer was to face charges over a crash that killed three people was released to the public.
The three men who died, Dean Maguire (29), Karl Freeman (26) and Graham Taylor (31), were members of a Tallaght-based criminal gang that specialised in burglaries.
They were killed instantly when their BMW vehicle burst into flames following a head-on crash with a truck between Citywest and Baldonnel on July 7th, 2021, while they were driving on the wrong side of the N7 dual-carriageway.
Dublin District Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday that the DPP had decided a garda involved in the pursuit of their car before the crash is to be charged with a driving offence.
An officer from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) told the inquest the garda was to be charged, but had not yet been informed of the precise offence they faced.
Antoinette Cunningham, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), strongly criticised the handling of the matter by Gsoc.
“There’s an overwhelming sense of anger among the membership about how this information came into the public domain,” she told RTÉ's News at One.
“I have to say that it’s absolutely scandalous that a member of An Garda Síochána, whose primary focus in an incident would be the protection of members of the public, heard that they are to be the subject of criminal charges through a coroner’s court by Gsoc,” she said.
Ms Cunningham said the manner in which the information was released at a public hearing was “unfair” and “unacceptable”.
Anyone should be entitled to know the full details of what criminal charges they were facing, “before it is put out into the public domain”, she said.
The AGSI general secretary called for a “complete overhaul” of Gsoc, which investigates alleged wrongdoing by gardaí.
There was a need for the body to be “accountable to somebody else for the actions or inactions that they’re taking”, Ms Cunningham said.
In a statement, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said the news that an officer faced the threat of criminal charges “for any actions while carrying out their duty for the protection of the public has come as a shock”.
The group, who represent rank and file gardaí, said the development was “extremely concerning” to its members.
“As we do not know the details or context of any possible charges, it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time,” the statement said.