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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Reinstated garda 'astounded' to be suspended from duty again

Garda John Kelly
Garda John Kelly

A GARDA who won a Supreme Court case to get his job back has said he is "astounded" after being suspended from duty again.

Garda John Kelly, who is stationed at Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, had served 27 years in the force before his dismissal in August 2011.

He had returned to duty at the district headquarters in Sligo town in November of last year and undergwent retraining. This is normal procedure when officers have been out of the force for long periods.

Garda Kelly, from Strandhill, Co Sligo, had strenuously denied several allegations and won his Supreme Court case, which left the State with estimated legal costs of €450,000.

He was originally dismissed over an allegation that he had made a false statement after he conducted an after-hours inspection of Monica's Bar in Drumshanbo in 2009.

In November, a three-judge Supreme Court granted his appeal against the High Court's rejection of his challenge to that dismissal and said a new internal garda appeals hearing would have to take place.

Garda Kelly was reinstated to the force on legal advice. Now the force has suspended him again, he confirmed last night.

The officer said the suspension was "related to the original case" that was dealt with at the Supreme Court.

He said: "I am terribly disappointed at the garda management action.

"I had every reason to believe the matter was over.

"My legal team are equally disappointed and astounded and I have consulted with them on further action."


One judge commented at the Supreme Court case that Drumshanbo may seem "a tidy, quiet and even sleepy place" but "certainly was not such" around 3.30am on Sunday, September 20, 2009, when Garda Kelly claimed that he found that several people were drinking in 'Monica's' pub.

This sparked off events ultimately leading to his dismissal, Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell said when the court overturned the dismissal.

Monica McGourty, wife of Paddy McGourty, the proprietor of Monica's, became so incensed after Garda Kelly's visit that she walked around the town and sat outside another bar, apparently to make the point that other pubs were still operating at that hour, Mr Justice O'Donnell said.

The Supreme Court ruled that a garda board of inquiry had failed to give reasons for recommending Garda Kelly's dismissal and directed that the board must give him those reasons before his fresh appeal against the recommended dismissal, which is to be conducted in line with the court's findings.

Neither the board of inquiry nor a Garda Appeals Board had explained their respective decisions in favour of dismissal "in even the most rudimentary way", Mr Justice O'Donnell said, in a judgment with which Chief Justice Susan Denham and Mr Justice Frank Clarke agreed.

A garda spokesman said the force would not comment on staff issues.

By Greg Harkin

Irish Independent

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