A GARDA has been temporarily banned from dealing with the public pending the outcome of inquiries into claims that he offered deals to motorists facing driving offences.
The garda, who has more than 10 years' service and is in his 30s, is alleged to have suggested to motorists that their offences would be quietly dropped if they made donations to a charity nominated by him.
He is understood to have been fundraising for a charity in recent months and taking part in a sponsored marathon.
A member of the public is believed to have made a complaint and this led to initial inquiries within the division where the garda is based.
As part of his duties at the time, the garda was in regular contact with motorists caught for fixed-charge traffic offences.
As a result of the inquiries over the past fortnight, the force's internal-affairs unit was contacted and a chief superintendent appointed an officer from within the region to head up an official investigation.
Apart from a criminal investigation into the complaints, internal disciplinary inquiries are also under way. The garda has been shifted to desk duties.
Gardai are so far dealing with two alleged incidents but officers say more allegations could come to light.
One officer said there was no suggestion that the garda was pocketing the money for his own use and that the information gathered so far indicated the charity was the beneficiary of the funds allegedly gathered.
The officer added: "This is a most unusual case as we have no evidence of corruption. But if the complaints are proven to be true, you cannot have a garda taking on the role of a judge and deciding who should be given an opportunity to pay money into a poor box, instead of being handed a fine."
Gardai are investigating claims that the "charity" offer has been available to some motorists for several weeks. But they say there is no evidence at this stage that a large sum of money is involved.