Garda HR Director seeks court order preventing his dismissal

Garda Commissioner made recommendation that John Barrett be fired, court hears

A member of An Garda Síochána's senior management team has launched High Court proceedings aimed at preventing the Minister for Justice from dismissing him from his job.

The action has been taken by John Barrett, who was appointed as An Garda Síochána's Executive Director of Human Resources and People Development in 2014, but was suspended from his role in late 2018.

The High Court heard on Wednesday that Mr Barrett believes Minister Helen McEntee, based on a recommendation made by the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris earlier this month, will terminate his employment in early January.

Mr Barrett claims that such a move is unlawful, and arises following what he claims is a flawed investigation into allegations against him. He denies any wrongdoing.

He is seeking an injunction preventing the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice from terminating his employment, pending the outcome of an action he launched earlier this year.

At Wednesday's sitting of the High Court Ms Justice Eileen Creedon, on an ex-parte basis, granted Mr Barrett's lawyers permission to serve short notice of the injunction application on both the Minister and the Commissioner.

Mark Harty SC, with David Byrnes Bl, instructed by solicitor Felix McTiernan, for Mr Barrett told the judge that there was "a long history" to the matter.

Counsel said his client was suspended from his position in 2018 after he made a number of protected disclosures to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and to the Disclosures Tribunal.

Those disclosures include claims by Mr Barrett about how he was treated by senior gardaí, as well as issues concerning the Garda College at Templemore, Co Tipperary, and the treatment of retired Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Counsel said that following allegations against Mr Barrett his client was made the subject of an internal civil service investigation.

Counsel said that process had taken two years to complete.

Earlier this month, arising out of a report generated by the investigation, the Garda Commissioner made a recommendation to the Minister that Mr Barrett be fired, counsel said.

Counsel said his client had withdrawn from the investigation process and, in proceedings commenced last July had challenged the lawfulness of the investigation and argues that it breached the 2014 Protected Disclosures Act.

That action has yet to come to trial.

After his client was notified of the Commissioner’s recommendation to the Minister counsel said undertakings were sought from the Minister that his client would not be dismissed until Mr Barrett’s case had been determined.

No undertaking was forthcoming and counsel said his client had no option other than seek an injunction halting any decision to dismiss him.

The injunction application will return before the court in early January.