Paul Williams: 'This has sent shock waves through the force and community'
The arrests of a Garda superintendent and inspector as part of a corruption investigation are a dramatic and unprecedented development which has sent shock waves through the force and the community.
It is always disturbing and concerning when senior members of the national police force are under suspicion for leaking information to an organised crime gang.
The three arrests - which also included a detective garda - are part of a long-running criminal investigation which began probing the links between a garda and a drug gang operating in the mid-west.
That officer was arrested earlier this year by colleagues in the National Bureau of Fraud Investigation. He was not among the three officers arrested yesterday morning.
At the time the Irish Independent revealed that the officer was suspected of receiving €20,000 in return for secret information on the progress of a CAB investigation into the gang's money laundering operation.
The arrests of the superintendent, inspector and detective in the south of the country are believed to be the latest development in that corruption investigation. The two senior officers who were detained shortly before 8am are well known and respected. Both men have extensive experience in investigating organised crime and played a crucial role in the capture and conviction of members of one of the country's most dangerous criminal gangs. The inspector was released from custody last night and was suspended from duty.
Reliable and senior sources revealed that the decision to make the arrests, rather than interviewing the three officers, was not taken lightly. The sources confirmed the arrests are the culmination of a long-running investigation headed up by Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, of special crime operations.
It is understood that the investigation included surveillance and the interception of phone and text conversations between a number of individuals over several months.
This arrest operation is unlike any other internal investigation in the history of An Garda Síochána. Previously the arrest of the former head of the Garda press office, the now disgraced superintendent Dave Taylor, was the first time an officer of such elevated rank was lifted as part of a criminal investigation. This related to the alleged disclosure of information to media, and not a criminal gang. The DPP eventually decided Taylor had no case to answer and his suspension from duty was lifted.
A senior source said: "The arrests have shocked everyone in the organisation because the guys involved are experienced and well respected. The decision to arrest senior members was not taken lightly because if it is found that the officers have no case to answer they would be perfectly entitled to sue the commissioner because accusing a police officer of corruption is the worst possible attack on a person's integrity and reputation."