Watchdog recommends disciplining senior garda
THE GARDA Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against a senior member of An Garda Síochána in relation to the handling of a protest over Corrib gas in north Mayo over two years ago.
About 20 civilians and two gardaí were hurt in the incident. The GSOC decision was referred to the Garda Commissioner last July. An ombudsman spokesman said yesterday it had not had notification on the outcome.
A Garda spokesman confirmed that “a file has been received for a decision to be made by the Garda Commissioner”.
The GSOC is reissuing copies of the decision to 14 complainants, following confirmation by The Irish Timesthat at least five residents who have had their complaints upheld did not receive letters posted by the ombudsman on July 14th informing them of this.
The GSOC recommendation suggests that a “less serious breach of discipline be considered” under the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations, 2007, regarding the garda at the centre of the investigation.
Where a breach is treated as “less serious”, the type of sanctions which may apply include reduction in pay not exceeding two weeks’ pay; a reprimand; a warning; a caution; or advice.
The GSOC investigation was undertaken under section 95 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005, after receipt of complaints over Garda handling of a protest at Pollathomas pier on June 11th, 2007.
Some 20 civilians and two gardaí were injured when a landowner objected to trespass on his property by contractors for Shell EP Ireland. Several arrests were made, but the case regarding one of those detained was dropped at the direction of the DPP. The landowner, who had been unwell, was hospitalised afterwards.
Contractors later removed a portacabin placed on the pier for survey work on receipt of letters from the landowner’s solicitor.
Some 18 complaints were submitted to the GSOC in relation to the Garda handling of the situation. Rossport resident Mary Corduff, who received treatment for injuries, was one of 14 people who were told in October 2007 their complaints were deemed admissible. Four complaints alleging criminal behaviour were not deemed admissible.
The GSOC initially asked the Minister for Justice whether it could investigate the complaints under section 106 of the Garda Síochána Act. This was turned down by the Minister. The investigation was pursued under section 95 of the Garda Síochána Act. Some 68 gardaí were contacted by the GSOC – a move criticised last April by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.