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Lawsuit Ex-garda alleges he was forced out for saying officers had links to drug gangs

Lawsuit alleges gang was 'allowed to receive shipments after tip-offs were not acted upon''

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Former garda Jack Doyle, who is suing for damages, has made ‘allegations of the utmost gravity’ against former colleagues

Former garda Jack Doyle, who is suing for damages, has made ‘allegations of the utmost gravity’ against former colleagues

Former garda Jack Doyle, who is suing for damages, has made ‘allegations of the utmost gravity’ against former colleagues

Twenty-seven years ago, a Ford Fiesta failed to stop at a garda checkpoint on a country road and a short time later the driver abandoned the car and escaped on foot.

When gardaí caught up with the vehicle they found a large quantity of ecstasy in the boot.

The seizure near Donoughmore, Co Cork, was valued at more than £1m and made the evening television news bulletin, as did a description of the driver.

Although it was considered a notable garda success, the operation has long since faded in the public consciousness.

But according to an explosive lawsuit filed by a former garda, a lot more was going on than met the eye.

The retired officer, Jack Doyle (67), claims the driver was an informant he had recruited while stationed in Blarney, Co Cork, and that the seizure was staged.

He says the description given to the media bore no resemblance to the informant, who had in fact been picked up by another garda close to the scene and driven away.

According to Mr Doyle, the informant infiltrated a drugs gang operating in the region, providing gardaí with information on major criminals.

In time, Mr Doyle claims, the informant became a courier for the gang, bringing drugs into the country by ferry with the knowledge and agreement of garda officers more senior than him.

Initially Mr Doyle believed the operation would lead to the arrest and prosecution of up to five serious criminals, including Tommy O'Callaghan, later a target of the Criminal Assets Bureau.

However, aspects of the operation troubled him.

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According to Mr Doyle's lawsuit, the Donoughmore seizure in 1995 represented only half of the shipment brought in and the rest was allowed go through to the gang.

He said he later learned another consignment was brought in a month later with the knowledge of gardaí, and this time it was allowed through in its entirety.

There were several other "drops" supposedly made with the knowledge of officers more senior than Doyle, yet the informant told him these were never acted upon and drugs ended up on the street.

The garda couldn't understand why some leading criminals had not been arrested when he believed there had been several opportunities to do so.

He claims that at one point the informant told him a certain criminal "had a senior police officer in his pocket".

Mr Doyle also claims that after colleagues located a buried handgun associated with the drugs operation, they beefed up the find, adding in other weapons.

The cache was portrayed as being linked to subversives, he claims, apparently in an effort by the officers involved to advance their careers.

Disturbed by what he alleged was going on around him, Mr Doyle says he confided in a friend who was a customs intelligence officer and contacted a journalist.

By 1999 Mr Doyle was no longer a garda, retiring from the force on medical grounds at the age of 45.

In a lawsuit against the Garda Commissioner, Justice Minister and the Attorney General, currently before the High Court, he claims he was pushed out of the force and that his employment was terminated unlawfully.

However, if the defendants have their way, his claims will never be fully aired in court.

Later this month a motion will be heard in which lawyers for the State parties will seek the dismissal of the case on the grounds of delay. Doyle's legal team has a separate motion for judgment in default of a defence filing.

An affidavit sworn by Karen Duggan, a solicitor from the Office of the Chief State Solicitor, said Mr Doyle had made "allegations of the utmost gravity against named members of An Garda Síochána".

But the filing claimed the ability of the defendants to defend the proceedings had been impaired by the death of two witnesses, the inability to locate two more and the unavailability of crucial files due to the passage of time.

Strikingly, the affidavit also said six garda witnesses had instructed that they could no longer recall the time which is the subject of the proceedings.

The six include a former senior officer Mr Doyle alleges was a central figure in the events he alleged transpired.

Mr Doyle is suing for damages and seeking declarations the termination of his employment is legally void.

He issued the proceedings as far back as 2003, but then sought to have his complaints examined via other avenues.

These included a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman, ruled inadmissible in 2007, but referred by the ombudsman to the Garda Commissioner the following year. The commissioner opted not to investigate

His complaint was subsequently examined in 2014 as part of an independent review by barristers, commissioned by the Justice Minister, of multiple cases where allegations of garda misconduct or inadequacies had been made.

He was informed two years later the review had recommended no further action.

By that stage he had already resolved to push ahead with his High Court proceedings.

If his case finally does get off the ground, it could have significant ramifications for the reputations of those implicated, most of whom are retired.

In his lawsuit, Mr Doyle claims he felt abandoned, undermined and under unbearable stress as a result of what was unfolding, fearing for his and his wife's safety

After a brief period in hospital, he alleges he was pressurised by a senior officer to resign and that when he refused, he was forced into taking a transfer.

According to his pleadings, a garda medical officer decided in December 1998 to retire him on medical grounds, little over a month after Mr Doyle's own GP certified him as physically and mentally capable.

In the lawsuit, Mr Doyle claims his discharge had a devastating impact on his health, made it difficult for him to obtain work and led to him having to sell his home.

The distress caused was exacerbated by the failure, as he sees it, of various authorities to investigate his claims.

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