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Garda could not be dismissed where a punishment had already been imposed for the same matter

By: James Cross BL

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High Court grants judicial review of a decision by the Commissioner of An Garda Siochana to summarily dismiss a member of the force who had already been subject of a disciplinary process wherein the Appeal Board determined that he should be given a 9–weeks reduction in pay and a reprimand, on the grounds that it would offend principles of constitutional justice and it would be unfair and oppressive for the applicant to be exposed to punishment a second time given that all relevant issues had already been considered and determined to a final outcome which was binding on the respondent in the disciplinary process.

Judicial review – An Garda Siochana - Disciplinary process - At all material times the applicant admitted his guilt in respect of the charges proffered against him – findings made - recommended a penalty of the deduction of one week’s pay - gave notice of his proposal to impose a far more severe sanction, namely to require the applicant to resign from An Garda Síochána as an alternative to his dismissal - applicant appealed against the foregoing decision - an Appeal Board was established by the respondent - unanimous determination of the Appeal Board was to substitute, in lieu of the requirement to resign as an alternative to dismissal, a total of 9–weeks reduction in pay and a reprimand - respondent invoked statutory provision which gave him powers in respect of the summary dismissal of members of An Garda Síochána – whether it was lawful to invoke this provision – judicial review granted – relevant statutory provisions – Garda regulations – pleadings - facts in this case – Commissioner’s letter - re-suspension of the applicant - letter by applicant’s solicitors – correspondence – appeal - Appeal Board established by the Commissioner -Appeal Board decision - 14 mitigating circumstances - Commissioner’s letter invoking powers of summary dismissal – applicant’s response – impugned decision – impossible to reconcile the contents of the Commissioner’s letter - letter contains unexplained inconsistencies – satisfied that there is a very material difference between the position of someone who, in fact, gets to resign as opposed to someone who is dismissed - no new issue raised – statutory interpretation - impossible for the respondent to exercise his power pursuant to s. 14 of the 2005 Act unfairly and in a manner inconsistent with the principles of constitutional justice - view to setting at naught, and thwarting entirely, the key outcome of the process which was conducted pursuant to the 2007 Regulations – it would offend principles of constitutional justice and it would be unfair and oppressive for the applicant to be exposed to punishment a second time, i.e. pursuant to the s. 14 process, given that, in reality, all relevant issues have already been considered and determined to a final outcome which is binding on the respondent in the disciplinary process pursuant to the 2007 Regulations – the very particular facts in the case before this court involve what can fairly be characterised as an attempt by the respondent to revisit his decision to invoke, and to contend therein for a very specific penalty, and to pursue to a conclusion, the disciplinary process pursuant to the 2007 Regulations which ultimately produced a result with which he disagrees - breach of fair procedures – judicial review granted

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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