Laws that applied when gay garda dismissed were wrong, says Flanagan

Minister’s statement claims standards of 1982 would be completely unacceptable today

An unacceptable system of laws and standards pertained in the Republic in 1982 when a Garda member was dismissed from the force over suspicions he was engaging in homosexual activity, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said.

A statement issued on the case by the Department of Justice on behalf of Mr Flanagan said it was “our understanding” the Garda member did not want to be named.

“Following correspondence, the department located papers from 1982 and sent these to the Garda authorities to assist them in responding to the person,” the statement said.

“The Minister is supportive of the Garda Commissioner who, he believes, is dealing appropriately with the matter.”


The department pointed out that that last year on the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, Mr Flanagan had “referred to the hurt and harm that had been caused to gay people”.

He had also “fully acknowledged and apologised for the discriminatory nature of those laws which had very real and sometimes tragic consequences” for people’s lives.

“The standards and indeed the laws that applied in 1982 were wrong and would be completely unacceptable today.”

The statement, which came in reply to queries, related to the case of a gay former Garda member who told his story last month in The Irish Times using the pseudonym Liam.

He was dismissed in his early 20s just two days before his two-year probation period was due to expire. His staff appraisals in 1980 and 1981 were all positive and recommended his retention as an “excellent garda”.

However, when RTÉ set designer Charles Self, a gay man, was murdered in a house in Monkstown, Co Dublin, in January 1982, gardaí focused on the gay community. Liam was spotted mixing in Dublin's gay circles by the investigating officers.

Once it emerged he was gay he was interviewed twice about his sexuality and in mid-1982, two days before he was due to become a full-time garda, he was ordered to take off his uniform in his Garda station by senior officers who sought him out and ordered him to leave.

After many years of correspondence with the Garda and Department of Justice, last week he received a document from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris relating to his dismissal. It chronicles his movements on the gay scene and recommends his services be "dispensed with" despite his being an "excellent garda".

Mr Harris also acknowledged in his correspondence to Liam that he was dismissed because of his "alleged homosexual activity".

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times