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Garda loses High Court challenge to dismissal

A WEST of Ireland-based garda has lost his High Court action aimed at stopping his dismissal from the force.

The dismissal of Garda John Kelly, who was based in Drumshambo Co Leitrim,  was recommended over an allegedly false statement he made after he conducted an after-hours inspection of Monica's Bar in Drumshambo.


In 2011, a Garda Board of inquiry set up to investigate the allegations of disciplinary breaches by Garda Kelly recommended that he be dismissed. That decision was upheld on appeal.


In High Court proceedings aimed at quashing the dismissal decision, Garda Kelly claimed it was unfair, irrational and unreasonable. The Garda Commissioner denied the Garda's claims and opposed the action. 


In his ruling today Mr Justice John Hedigan  rejected the claims that the decision to dismiss him was flawed. 


The court heard that Garda Kelly said in a statement he made in September 2009 that he found Monica's to be open at 3.30am on the September 20, 2009, and found people on the premises.


However the wife of the licencee made a statement to the Gardai that Garda Kelly did not enter the premises on the night in question, and may have "only put his foot in the hallway."


A superior of Garda Kelly's sought clarification on the allegations. This resulted in Garda Kelly making a revised statement. However his superior felt Garda Kelly had failed to answer his queries adequately.


Arising out of this, an internal Gardai investigation was conducted. It was alleged that Garda Kelly gave false statements and he was charged with six breaches of Garda disciplinary procedures, including falsehood.


A Garda Board of Inquiry in July 2011 recommended that Garda Kelly, who joined the force in 1982, be dismissed from the force in respect of four of the charges against him.


He appealed that decision. In March 2012 a Garda Appeal Board determined Garda Kelly's appeal was "without substance and foundation," and dismissed it.


Among his claims in the High Court action, he said that statements from the publican's wife, which were admitted into evidence by the Board of Inquiry, should not have been used because they contained inconsistencies.


In his ruling Mr Justice Hedigan rejected Garda Kelly's claim that no reasons were given by the Board of Inquiry for their decision. This was not a case where a party needed to know the precise reason for the decision that was arrived at.


There was a straight factual dispute between the parties, which had been resolved by the Board's assessment of the evidence. It was not possible that Garda Kelly was not fully aware of the reasons why the board came to the conclusions it did. 


The Judge also rejected his claim that the witnesses' statements were inconsistent with each other.

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