Friday 20 April 2018

Supreme Court quashes decision by former Garda Commissioner to dismiss assault sergeant

Garda Martha McEnery
Garda Martha McEnery
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Supreme Court has quashed a decision by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to summarily dismiss a sergeant after she was convicted of an assault while on duty.

It found the reason for the decision was never fully explained to Sgt Martha McEnery, and for that reason must be quashed.

Sgt McEnery was dismissed from the force in March 2013 as a result of a suspended four month sentence she received for assault during the arrest of Anthony Holness in Waterford in January 2010.

She was convicted along with two colleagues following a high-profile trial, which heard evidence she struck Mr Holness on the head a number of times with a closed fist.

Sgt McEnery unsuccessfully challenged her dismissal in the High Court, arguing that the simple fact of a criminal conviction in the absence of other reasons could not constitute grounds for summary dismissal.

She also contended the conviction did not absolve the Garda Commissioner from conducting his own inquiry into her conduct.

Last October, Sgt McEnery successfully appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal, which found the commissioner had not acted lawfully within regulations in dismissing Sgt McEnery without giving separate consideration to the facts surrounding her breach of discipline.

The seven-judge Supreme Court today unanimously upheld the decision to quash the dismissal, but on different grounds.

In a judgment by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, the court said the order for quashing the decision should be on the grounds no adequate reasons were given for the dismissal.

She said the failure to give adequate reasons was contrary to the Commissioner’s implied duties and a breach of natural and constitutional justice.

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