Garda who quit after seven months due to alleged bullying refused re-entry to force, high court hears
A Garda who quit after only seven months service because of alleged bullying and failure of his colleagues to carry out their public duties, launched a High Court action Wednesday against the Commissioner for refusing to allow him re-join the force.
Former Garda Mark O’Neill has claimed in sworn documents opened before Mr Justice Richard Humphreys that his colleagues at Wexford Garda Station failed to investigate crimes and perform mandatory alcohol testing checkpoints.
O’Neill also alleged his former colleagues failed to record official records on PULSE the computer system gardaí use in their work. He resigned from the force in April of 2016 having joined only seven months earlier in September 2015.
As well as making complaints about the alcohol testing checkpoints he also said there had been a failure to respond to emergency calls, that there was a lack of supervision of probationary Gardai, bullying and that his personal property was damaged.
Mark Harty SC,counsel for O’Neill, told the judge his client had been a member of the Garda Reserve before joining the force full-time. He had resigned after having become unhappy with regard to a number of issues.
Mr Harty, who appeared with barrister John Berry and solicitor Sean Costellor, said Mr O’Neill, from Kill, Co Waterford, had since been prompted to re-join the force by a Garda Superintendent and he had applied again in June 2016.
He said Mr O'Neill's application to re-join was not dealt with for 12 months, and in June 2017 he had been informed that his application had been refused. During the year-long delay he had been informed that the behaviour he had complained about would have to be investigated before his application to re-join could be considered.
Mr Harty said that Mr O'Neill had not been given any reasons for the Commissioner’s refusal nor had he been informed of the outcome of any investigation that may or may not have taken place.
Counsel said Mr O'Neill was entitled to know the reasons for the refusal and the Commissioner was obliged to give them. He had disclosed matters internally to senior officers "before such issues had come into the public domain."
“He has made complaints about behaviour which is criminal in nature and in which Mr O'Neill has been the injured party. He has a right to be kept informed of the progress of the results of any investigation,” Mr Harty said.
O’Neil has taken judicial review proceedings against the Garda Commissioner andl seeks an order quashing the refusal to let him re-join An Garda Siochána. He also seeks an order directing he be given reasons why the Commissioner refused his application to re-join.
He has also asked the court for a declaration that a former Garda who has given a superior officer information leading to the launch of an investigation, the former member is entitled to be kept informed of the progress and result of the investigation.
Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis, where only one party was present in court. Judge Humphreys adjourned the matter to a date in the new law term.