The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) has begun an investigation into a road traffic collision in which the Metropolitan Mayor of Limerick Gerry O'Dea overturned his car.
The inquiry is running in tandem with an internal Garda disciplinary probe into how members of the force conducted the investigation into the crash in December 2014.
The Gsoc inquiry will seek to establish why no prosecution was pursued in the aftermath of such a serious incident. It will test whether the Garda’s inquiry was conducted properly and without any influence, and Gsoc will examine whether Garda members, or anybody outside the force, became involved in the case to exert influence.
The Irish Times understands the Gsoc investigation began on foot of a complaint lodged late last year, though news the Garda watchdog had established the inquiry had not emerged before now.
Mr O’Dea, a member of
, has already stated he was involved in a single-vehicle road traffic accident and was the sole occupant of his car. But he has insisted he was guilty of no wrongdoing.
“Following the accident I co-operated fully with An Garda Síochána and subsequently made no further contact with An Garda Síochána about the issue,” he said in a statement when it emerged last October the statute of limitations had expired and so no prosecution could be pursued.
“In early May 2015 I was informed there would be no action against me. I consider the matter closed.” The incident occurred when a BMW car overturned on the outskirts of Limerick city on December 11th, 2014. The driver claimed he had swerved to avoid another vehicle that fled the scene.
Mr O’Dea was taken to University Hospital Limerick where tests were carried out.
The handling of the Garda investigation has subsequently become the matter of an internal inquiry by An Garda Síochána, which is now nearing completion.
Mr O’Dea said in his statement there was no contact between him and An Garda Síochána subsequent to the initial investigation with which he said he co-operated fully. He faced no further action, and there is no record of a summons being issued. He has maintained his place in Fianna Fáil and his electoral office.
Mr O’Dea did not take up the encouragement of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin last October to make a further statement that would elaborate on the brief explanation of the incident released by the Limerick publican after news of his crash first emerged.
“Cllr O’Dea was advised that the party viewed this matter to be very serious,” said Mr Martin at the time. “He was then advised to consider making a detailed and comprehensive statement about the circumstances surrounding his road traffic accident. The response is awaited.”
The comments marked an escalation of the pressure on Mr O’Dea from within his own party, though he has not made any other comment.
Fianna Fáil had initially said the incident was “an operational issue for An Garda Síochána”.