While a raft of policing issues are set to be discussed at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi) three-day annual conference, the hushed conversations on the fringes last night were dominated by another matter.
A senior Agsi member is under pressure amid allegations of double jobbing and the association has been forced to issue a statement saying it is aware of reports about the person being under Garda investigation.
The inquiry is being carried out by the force’s serious crime squad, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and relates to an Agsi member said to have advised Coolmore Stud in Co Tipperary on its security needs on a small number of occasions in recent years. Allegations have been lodged in the form of protected disclosures by two Agsi members.
“It has definitely all gone nuclear now,” one delegate told The Irish Times. “There have been rifts in the association down the years and I would say a particular split between two groups in the last couple of years.
“But now this is new; members making allegations against other members and a Garda investigation into that and it being all over the media. There is really no going back on that and it is very hard to know what is going to happen.”
Another delegate said the outcome of the investigation, and the implications that might arise, were impossible to predict. However, he did not think the organisation was split.
“Allegations have been made and they are either true or they’re not true and only time will tell . . . the outcome is out of Agsi’s hands. You would just hope it would be completed as fast as possible.”
Other delegates said the fact an investigation was under way meant there was nothing the association could, or should, do for now apart from allow the inquiry to run its course and consider the outcome when it arrives.
The allegation that a member was effectively acting as a security consultant in his spare time is a serious one. Garda members are not permitted to take on any work that requires a licence to be held.
However, if a Garda member was accused of breaking the force’s rules by providing security services, a number of facts must be established before wrongdoing can be proven.
Private Security Authority
The tasks the person performed must come within the remit of the Private Security Authority (PSA). However, many services that would be regarded as “security work” do not require a PSA licence and therefore a Garda member would not be in breach of the rules if they provided those.
For example, when security workers carried out evictions last year it emerged that the work did not come under the remit of the PSA, even though the work was done by security personnel.
In order for a Garda to be in breach of their rules of employment it must also be established that they were paid for providing security services.
If, for example, a member of the force informally gave security advice in their spare time with no fee charged, it is unlikely a finding could be made against them. It is also questionable whether that work would come under the remit of the PSA, even if a fee was paid.
Any comments by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on the case, or on double jobbing in general, will also be closely studied by members of the force.