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Tuesday 15 October 2019

14 gardaí and GAA players quizzed over 'squaring' of road traffic offence tickets probe

Stock photo. Photo: PA
Stock photo. Photo: PA
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Detectives investigating Garda corruption in the Munster region have quizzed 14 gardaí as part of the widening inquiry.

Last week, a Garda station was searched and a number of officers interviewed over the alleged non-prosecution of road traffic offences.

It is being investigated whether gardaí were involved in the 'squaring' of tickets, where they are thrown out or cancelled, resulting in no prosecution.

It is alleged that this involved mainly traffic offences such as speeding.

The inquiry is being led by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) and is a widened aspect of a long-running inquiry focusing on a number of gardaí in the south of the country.

The main investigation is focused on alleged corruption and collusion between certain officers and a criminal gang.

However, gardaí spoken to last week are not suspected of any involvement with crime groups and they have not been arrested.

Instead, it is being investigated if a small number of them were involved in the 'squaring' of tickets as a favour for, or under pressure from, more experienced gardaí under investigation for involvement with a criminal enterprise.

One officer in particular, who has been arrested as part of the major inquiry and is currently suspended from duty, is suspected of organising favours "left, right and centre" for a wide range of people from criminals to sports figures.

As part of last week's operation, a number of GAA players and officials were also spoken to. While they are not suspected of wrongdoing themselves, a number of phones, documents, and other items of evidential value were seized.

Last July, a leading sports figure was the latest suspect to be arrested in a long-running probe into Garda corruption.

That individual is believed to be "the link man" at the centre of the entire investigation.

A garda, one of three members of the force arrested for questioning last May, was also suspected of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The garda is currently suspended from duty by Commissioner Drew Harris.

He has been arrested twice as part of the investigation being carried out by detectives from the NBCI into alleged wrongdoing or corruption involving gardaí in the southern region.

The corruption probe, which has been ongoing for the past year, has included covert surveillance and examination of phone records.

It also focused on the suspected leaking of information by gardaí to members of a major organised crime gang.

This included information about a planned search-and-seize operation by the Criminal Assets Bureau, targeting members of the gang and other criminal associates with loose connections to the crime network based in the south.

Irish Independent

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