Garda's suspension from duty extended over 'leaks' inquiry
The senior garda at the centre of a criminal investigation into the alleged leaking of information to the media has had his suspension from the force extended by a further three months.
The male officer, who has had his phone seized and closely examined as part of the garda probe, now faces the prospect of a criminal trial.
It emerged last month that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan had assigned her husband, who serves as a superintendent in Dublin, to lead the investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the officer.
The Garda Commissioner defended the move to appoint Detective Superintendent Jim McGowan to lead the probe.
Ms O'Sullivan, responding to suggestions of a conflict of interest, said it was common knowledge that her husband served in the force.
But the officer's suspension from the force has sent shockwaves through both garda and media circles and has been brought to the attention of Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
The concern was heightened by the fact that the officer was sanctioned to speak directly to journalists as part of his duties.
Opposition TDs are expected to raise questions about the officer's suspension on the floor of the Dáil when it resumes next month.
The prospect of the matter becoming a hot political issue, similar to previous garda controversies, will concern the Justice Minister.
It has now emerged that the garda in question, who has served at various different ranks up to and including superintendent, has had his suspension extended by three months.
The suspension involves a significant cut in the officer's pay as well as the seizure of all equipment and material relevant to his work.
The garda investigation began in May and centres on communication between the officer and a number of journalists. The officer was arrested and questioned in a Dublin garda station for over 18 hours.
His suspension from the office is now due to last up until the end of October.
As part of the probe, garda sought to interview a journalist with whom the officer had been in contact.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has said the case has "unusual aspects".