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Investigation Eight gardai suspended in 'corruption' probe

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Gardai received an anonymous phone call at 3am to report a man being spotted with a large knife

Gardai received an anonymous phone call at 3am to report a man being spotted with a large knife

Gardai received an anonymous phone call at 3am to report a man being spotted with a large knife

Eight gardaí were suspended across Munster yesterday in a dramatic escalation of an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption in public office.

The scale of suspensions of serving members in connection with a single inquiry is thought to be unprecedented in the Force and has sent shockwaves through local Garda divisions, sources said.

The suspensions are linked to an on-going investigation led by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations (NBCI) into allegations that gardaí interfered with or quashed fixed-charge penalty notices.

Garda headquarters confirmed the development last night.

A statement issued to the Sunday Independent said: "Further to an ongoing investigation led by the Assistant Commissioner Special Crime Operations, involving personnel attached to the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), eight members of An Garda Síochána have today been suspended.

"This element of the investigation is focused on corruption in public office. As this is an ongoing investigation, An Garda Síochána will not be commenting on the rank or the location of the members of An Garda Síochána who have been suspended today."

The investigation into alleged interference with fixed-charge penalty notices emerged from a broader probe of alleged corruption in the force during which three gardaí were arrested.

During the course of that inquiry, the NBCI came across allegations that gardaí had squared summons for GAA figures which were thought to relate to road traffic issues. The homes of several players and officials were searched and mobile phones were seized.

A large number of local gardaí were interviewed by detectives with the NBCI as part of that investigation. The suspension of eight serving gardaí marks a significant ramping up of their inquiries.

Meanwhile, a Garda superintendent who was arrested and suspended last year in connection with the NBCI corruption inquiry is to retire, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Superintendent Eamon O'Neill, who faced criminal and disciplinary investigations, is understood to be retiring on health grounds with effect from tonight. His retirement from the Force means that the disciplinary proceedings he faces will be dropped.

Mr O'Neill was accused of allegedly "fixing" more than 30 fixed-charge penalty notices and court summonses relating to road traffic offences.

His retirement follows his unsuccessful High Court bid to overturn his suspension, in which he described the allegations against him as preposterous and false.

During the course of the hearing, the High Court heard how he was accused of telling a garda who was then under investigation about a listening device on a his car.

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He was also accused of being present in a pub in Limerick in January last year when another garda colleague was alleged to have taken cocaine in his presence. Mr O'Neill denied all allegations.

A retired chief superintendent, Gerry Mahon, swore an affidavit in Mr O'Neill's favour saying he had read the documentation in the case and had "very serious concerns that a major miscarriage of justice is being perpetrated".

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