Garda wants name taken from Dáil record

Garda asks Ceann Comhairle to remove his name after accusation

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett was asked by members of An Garda Síochána to stop TDs from making allegations which they deemed to be damaging to members of the force.

The Committee on Procedures and Privileges, the body which sets Dáil rules, this week discussed the use of privilege following a number of complaints about recent incidents in the chamber.

One of these was the naming of former politicians by Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, that a whistleblower alleged held offshore accounts. Changes to the rules on privilege are unlikely to be made soon, one source said.

However, a Garda inspector said “false” claims were made by Independent Mick Wallace about him mistreating a Kilkenny publican. He now wants his name removed from the Dáil record.

Inspector Liam Connolly has written to Mr Barrett asking that his name be removed from the record after Mr Wallace named him five times and claimed he harassed a bar owner in Kilkenny.

Insp Connolly described it as a "gross misuse of Dáil privilege and a breach of the conventions of the house".

He said the claims were false and had had a serious impact on his reputation as a garda and on his family. In a letter to the CPP, Mr Wallace said that the “Dáil is the primary medium through which gardaí can be held democratically accountable”. The use of privilege without fear of litigation is a crucial way of raising Garda malpractice, he said.

Adversely affected

Patrick McCabe of the Association of Garda Superintendents (AGS) also wrote to Mr Barrett.

“We are concerned that various Teachta Dála are addressing the Dáil chamber during debates and are making utterances in the course of such contributions which are adversely affecting certain of our members.”

He said the remarks were being made under parliamentary privilege, and the AGS was concerned that the “good name and reputation [of members] are preserved”.

“The damage is immediate and causes damage to the affected party vis-a-vis their professional standing and career and renders them susceptible to public opprobrium and contempt,” said Mr McCabe.

He asked Mr Barrett to ensure no further allegations are put in the public arena by TDs “for disgruntled or disaffected citizens which are unverified or agenda-driven”.

The CPP found Ms McDonald was in breach of the Dáil rules for naming the former politicians alleged to have offshore accounts.