Garda's claim of harassment settled before court hearing


LEGAL PROCEEDINGS begun eight years ago by a Kerry garda and crime fiction writer, alleging he was harassed by his superiors into returning to work when his own medical team had certified him for sick leave, * has been struck out on consent.

The civil case brought by Garda John Galvin (49) had reached the High Court but was struck out on consent after talks between the sides, without getting to a hearing.

However, the Garda authorities are to pursue their costs, sources have confirmed.

Garda Galvin came to national prominence through his rural crime fiction with books such as Bog Warriors in 2000 and The Mercury Man in 2002.

In civil proceedings initiated in the Circuit Court in 2004, later remitted to the High Court, Garda Galvin, Whitewater House, Cromane, Killorglin, Co Kerry, sued Supt Pat O’Sullivan, then Garda superintendent in Cahirciveen, the Garda chief medical officer Dr Donal Collins, assistant commissioner Walter I Rice and by order, the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General, claiming damages and seeking confirmation that he was entitled to be on sick leave in the period in question.

He alleged that between May 2003 and February 2004 when he was out sick, the defendants engaged in a campaign of bullying and intimidation and harassment to force him to return to work.

He claimed defamation, that he was threatened with transfer if he did not return to work and that proper procedures were not complied with. He also claimed his salary was wrongfully suspended in January 2004.

His own medical experts certified him as being unfit, but the Garda chief medical officer, Dr Donal Collins, certified him as fit to return to work in August 2003.

Garda Galvin said he was removed from the Garda payroll in January 2004 and ultimately forced to return to work. The allegations of harassment were strongly denied by the defendants.

Supt O’Sullivan also denied threatening Garda Galvin with a transfer. He had acted at all material times as required by his duties as the superintendent in charge of the Cahirciveen district, he said.

A number of gardaí were summonsed as witnesses on both sides in High Court proceedings which were listed for hearing last year but did not go into evidence.

Garda Galvin was removed from the payroll for three months in 2004. He made a successful application under the Payment of Wages Act for restoration of pay. This was unsuccessfully appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

The civil proceedings were taken by Garda Galvin without the financial backing of the Garda Representative Association legal aid committee. The committee refused an application for legal assistance because it was a civil case.

* This article was amended on February 6th, 2012, to amend a factual error that arose in the editing process.