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Garda Commissioner in bid to block lawsuit involving claim gardaí allowed gang to import drug shipments

The allegations, which date back to the mid-1990s, were made by ex-garda Jack Doyle (67), who is suing for damages

Former garda Jack Doyle. Photo: James Connolly

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris© PA

Shane PhelanIndependent.ie

The Garda Commissioner wants the High Court to dismiss a lawsuit involving allegations by a former garda that officers allowed criminals receive drug shipments despite being tipped off about the consignments.

Lawyers for the commissioner claim six former gardaí cannot remember drugs operations and other alleged events at the centre of the explosive claims due to the passage of time or ill-health.

The allegations, which date back to the mid-1990s, were made by ex-garda Jack Doyle (67), who is suing for damages, claiming there was a conspiracy to force him into retirement after he raised concerns.

He is suing the commissioner, the Justice Minister and the State, claiming his forced medical discharge in 1998 had a devastating impact on his health, made it difficult to obtain work and led to him having to sell his home.

In an affidavit, the former garda said that in 1993, while stationed in Blarney, Co Cork, he recruited an informer who provided him with information about people in the drugs trade and planned shipments.

He made several serious claims, including that one major seizure in 1995 was staged and that only half of the consignment was seized.

The remainder, he alleged, was allowed through to the drugs gang.

The former garda alleged another consignment around that time was allowed through in its entirety.

Mr Doyle alleged the informant said several other “drops”, including consignments of ecstasy and cocaine, were made with the knowledge of officers more senior than him. It is claimed these shipments were not acted upon and drugs ended up on the street.

In his affidavit, Mr Doyle said the informant told him a certain criminal “had a senior police officer in his pocket”.

The commissioner has not entered a defence in the case, claiming it has not been possible to do so. Seeking the dismissal of Mr Doyle’s action, Oisín Quinn SC, for the commissioner, argued there was a substantial risk that there would not be a fair trial.

He told Mr Justice Conor Dignam the proceedings were initiated in 2003 but a statement of claim was not delivered until 15 years later, a delay he described as “inordinate and inexcusable”.

“It is not surprising that when the defendants came to explore who was available [to give evidence], there are witnesses who are dead, others who are ill, some with memory loss,” said Mr Quinn.

The barrister said the commissioner also had difficulty in obtaining records as a Garda station was the subject of an arson attack, while computer records were kept on a system that has long been obsolete.

Mr Quinn said two witnesses were deceased while six others had impaired memories.

The court heard part of the excuse for the delay in the proceedings was that Mr Doyle sought to have his complaints examined via other avenues, including a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman, ruled inadmissible in 2007. The commissioner also decided not to initiate an investigation.

His complaint was also examined in 2014 as part of an independent review of multiple cases where allegations of garda misconduct or inadequacies had been made.

The review recommended no further action.

Mr Doyle’s counsel, Miriam Reilly SC, said while it was accepted the delay was inordinate, there were factors excusing it and a properly run trial could obviate any prejudice.

She said her client had been “wrongfully kicked out of the guards” and had “his name blackened”.

It was inconceivable, she said, that the State hadn’t conducted an investigation to get to the bottom of things.

Mr Justice Dignam reserved judgment to a later date.


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