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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Air Corps officer wins appeal over dismissal from force

Commandant Nile Donohoe arriving at the Four Courts
yesterday to hear the judgment on his appeal.
Commandant Nile Donohoe arriving at the Four Courts yesterday to hear the judgment on his appeal.

Tim Healy

AN Air Corps officer has won an appeal against his dismissal by a military court for allegedly calling his superior officer "a little p***k".

In May 2010, a military trial found Commandant Nile Donohoe guilty of using threatening or insulting language to a superior officer and ordered his dismissal.

That dismissal was put on hold pending the outcome of an appeal to the Courts-Martial Appeal Court.

The appeal court yesterday found in favour of Cmdt Donohoe (48) -- who was in court -- on grounds related to the composition of the court martial.

He had been found guilty by the military court of telling Lieutenant Colonel Gerry O'Sullivan "You're a little p***k" -- or words to that effect -- at Baldonnel on January 30, 2009, after he had been given a negative appraisal of his performance.

Cmdt Donohoe, who has 28 years of service, had pleaded not guilty, claiming that he had actually said "a little prickly".

The court martial ordered his dismissal. The Courts-Martial Appeal Court heard the appeal last year and delivered its judgment yesterday.

The Supreme Court's Mr Justice Liam McKechnie said he found in favour of Cmdt Donohoe on grounds related to the composition of the court martial.

Rank

Under the Defence Act, a court martial is constituted on the basis of random selection and must include officers above the rank of captain. One colonel must also be on the board.

In Cmdt Donohoe's case, the six-member board comprised two colonels, two lieutenant-colonels and two commandants.

Mr Justice McKechnie said it was clear that the court martial administrator had directed or specified that certain defined ranks of officers would be represented on the board. The administrator had therefore acted outside of his powers under the Defence Acts.

Because the board was not constituted in accordance with law, its decision must be set aside, the court ruled.

Irish Independent

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