The case initially involved four officers who were then based in a station in the Leinster area.
The investigation focuses on an allegation made by a nightclub worker in a Co Kildare venue in December 2017.
A number of off-duty gardaí were “having a night out” in the club when it was claimed a male and female officer were seen by a doorman taking cocaine into a toilet cubicle. The doorman alerted gardaí who arrived at the scene and spoke to the officers.
No illegal drugs were seized, despite a number of searches taking place.
All four gardaí were suspended, and at least three separate homes were raided as part of the investigation, which was described as “very thorough and extensive”.
The female garda claimed she had received the cocaine from another member of the force. It is understood she also said the amount of the drug given to her was small and for personal use only.
A criminal investigation into the matter was immediately launched, as was an internal disciplinary probe.
It is understood two of the four officers involved have now resigned from the force. A third is back working as a garda after being disciplined for “being in a licensed premises after hours”.
But the fourth garda — described as the “alleged ringleader” — is still going through the disciplinary process. He stands accused of “potentially taking drugs” during the incident.
If found culpable, it is understood this garda is facing dismissal.
A criminal probe into the matter concluded in September 2018, when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed the four should not be charged with any criminal offence.
The decision came after an investigation led by a senior garda inspector who submitted a detailed file to the DPP. Any criminal conviction was always unlikely, said a source, given no cocaine was ever recovered by investigators.
The case sent shock waves through the force when it first emerged in the
Irish Independent in February 2018. It caused “great distress” to the garda force, as well as the four garda members.
Some officers have questioned how long the process is taking, as the incident took place in December 2017.
However, other sources describe the case as “complex”.
“For this case to still be going through the disciplinary process after almost five years, that is too long. It is also not fair for the officer at the centre of it, who is suspended on partial pay.
“But this case is very complex — especially considering no drugs were ever recovered. In addition, the DPP ruled there be no criminal charges. All this must be considered as part of the disciplinary process,” explained a senior source familiar with the case.
There has been a steady increase in the numbers of gardaí under internal investigation in recent years.
It emerged on Thursday that 55 disciplinary files have been opened by An Garda Síochána so far in the wake of the controversy over cancelled domestic violence 999 calls.
That controversy began last year, when an internal Garda investigation found thousands of these calls had been “cancelled” — meaning some victims, including vulnerable woman and children, had sought help but did not receive it.
The Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sought up-to-date figures and indicative timelines from the force for the completion of disciplinary procedures related to the cancelled calls.
An Garda Síochána told the committee that, as of the end of May, there were 55 disciplinary files open in the organisation’s internal affairs section.
It said it was not possible at this stage to provide indicative timelines for the completion of these.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was questioned on the issue by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster during his appearance at the PAC in late March.
Deputy Commissioner Shawna Coxon told the PAC that two gardaí had been suspended at that point, and that the disciplinary process was probably about halfway through.
Mr Harris said all the calls were recorded on a computer-aided dispatch system, but conceded processes were not being followed in relation to cancelled domestic abuse calls.