Three gardai - including a garda superintendent and inspector - have been arrested
Three gardai, including a superintendent and an inspector, have been arrested today as part of a lengthy investigation into alleged corruption in the force in the south of the country.
The investigation is centred on claims that members of the force have been supplying information about garda operations to suspects linked to a criminal gang based in the mid-west.
The three, who also include a garda, were arrested before 8am and taken for questioning to stations while several searches were also carried out.
A fourth garda has already been arrested and suspended from the force as part of the investigation.
He is suspected of having received money for providing information about garda activities into criminals, loosely connected to the mid-west gang.
Some of the information was alleged to be linked to a planned raid on premises and homes connected to criminals in the south of the country.
The raid was to have been led by the Criminal Assets Bureau with the back-up of other national units and local personnel.
Despite the information leak, the raids went ahead and were said to have been successful.
But they were carried out without the knowledge of any local gardai and those involved were all from national units.
The CAB raids followed months of investigation into the drug trafficking and money laundering activities of several crime gangs at different locations around the country.
The CAB raids resulted in the seizure of 115 cars and other items as the suspected proceeds of crime.
The decision to launch the search operation, without the knowledge of garda based in the division, caused some annoyance locally as many were not aware of the background to the corruption investigation.
Two of the units involved in backing up the CAB on those raids were also involved in the searches, the NBCI and the Garda national drugs and organised crime bureau.
This morning, the superintendent was arrested under Section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act, which relates to the disclosure of confidential information obtained in the course of his or her duties.
The garda inspector was arrested for a suspected breach of provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The garda has been arrested for suspected conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The arrests took place in the course of an investigation led by an Assistant Commissioner, the Special Crimes Operations (SCO), involving personnel attached to the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB). A number of premises were searched as part of the operation this morning.
Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, Policing & Security confirmed that three members of An Garda Síochána are in custody today, and are detained for the purpose of questioning arising from suspicion that they have been involved in the commission of one or more criminal offences.
"An Garda Síochána is fully committed to investigating any alleged wrong-doing or corruption involving Garda personnel, and will work with other relevant agencies in doing so. As this is a live and ongoing investigation, it is not appropriate to make any further comment at this time," Deput Comm Twomey said.
The internal corruption investigation into the allegations is being carried out by members of the national bureau of criminal investigation (NBCI), which is currently responsible for inquiries into alleged wrongdoing within the force.
This responsibility will shortly be handed over to a new anti-corruption unit, which Garda Commissioner Drew Harris promised last week, would be up and running before the end of the year.
That unit will focus initially on gathering intelligence on alleged wrongdoing in the force and will then be expanded to become more pro-active.
Mr Harris said people should be assured that the Garda was serious about wrongdoing in the organisation and would make sure it was stamped out.