Senior Garda’s challenge to suspension listed for February hearing

Assistant Commissioner John Fintan Fanning says sanction is unfair and unlawful

Assistant  Garda Commissioner John Fintan Fanning. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Assistant Garda Commissioner John Fintan Fanning. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

 

Assistant Garda Commissioner John Fintan Fanning’s application for a High Court injunction lifting his suspension from duty pending the outcome of an investigation has been listed for hearing next month.

Mr Fanning was suspended on January 3rd last pending an investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. He says the sanction was unfair and unlawful.

He is seeking orders lifting his suspension pending the outcome of his challenge, restraining the Garda commissioner from communicating “false” information concerning him and directing the commissioner to co-operate with the Gsoc investigation. He is also claiming damages.

The court previously granted his lawyers permission to serve short notice of his proceedings against the commissioner.

The matter was briefly mentioned before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds at the High Court on Wednesday. The judge agreed to fix Mr Fanning’s application for an injunction to be put in place pending the final outcome of his action to February 13th next.

The judge listed the matter for hearing after Shane Murphy SC, for the Garda commissioner, and Paul McGarry SC, for Mr Fanning, said that a timetable for the exchange of sworn statements in the case had been agreed. The hearing, which will be subject to the availability of judges, is expected to last for half a day, Mr McGarry added.

Fair procedures

Mr Fanning, who is due to retire in August after 39 years, claims his suspension breaches fair procedures and Garda rules. He said in a sworn statement that he became aware last month that Gsoc had received a protected disclosure made by a rank and file garda and he was asked to provide certain information within 30 days.

He provided that by December 20th and on the same day Gsoc served a notice stating it had received a complaint under the Protected Disclosures Act and had commenced a public interest investigation.

The notice informed Mr Fanning that the complainant alleged that on a date in November 2017, he was contacted directly by another Garda officer and told he was no longer on a specialist firearms course following an intervention by Mr Fanning. The second allegation concerned an incident in December 2017 involving an assault and the Garda claimed he was the victim in the incident.

The complainant claimed he was initially placed on restricted non-confrontational duties and later served with the force’s disciplinary documentation. The complainant claimed he was suspended from duty, following a recommendation by Mr Fanning, and treated as a suspect.

Mr Fanning rejects all allegations of wrongdoing and was taken aback by the claims.