An application by a Limerick-based Garda Superintendent to challenge his suspension will be heard by the High Court later this month.
Supt Edmund Anthony O’Neill, 53, who was part of the team of officers who secured five murder convictions in the Limerick city gangland feud, claims the allegations for which he was suspended were preposterous and false.
He was suspended a year ago when was arrested and questioned over allegations that he leaked confidential information and was in the presence of another senior officer who allegedly snorted cocaine.
He strongly denies the allegations which he described in an affidavit as “preposterous and mischievous in the extreme.”
Last week, the High Court granted his counsel Louis McEntagart SC permission to serve at short notice proceedings seeking to lift his suspension on the Garda Commissioner and the State.
The application was made on a one-side only represented basis.
The case returned before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore today when it was adjourned for three weeks to allow the State put in a response.
Mr McEntaggart asked for a shorter adjournment because the defendants had been on notice of the substance of the challenge for some time before it came to court last week.
Frank Callanan SC, for the defendants, asked for a reasonable amount of time to prepare replying affidavits. Counsel described the application seeking the lifting of the suspension as a “fairly radical attack” on the disciplinary process which has been initiated against the superintendent.
In his action, Supt O’Neill seeks, among other things, an injunction restraining his continued suspension which he claims is affecting his financial and physical health.
The superintendent, who is stationed in Roxboro Road, Limerick, says he was arrested after he was awoken in his bedroom on the morning of May 15 last year to find several gardaí around him.
He was taken to Athlone Garda Station where he was questioned in what he said was a “shambolic” interview process.
There were headlines in the national media that day about the arrest and he was later released and served with a suspension notice.
It was alleged he disclosed information whereby he allegedly told a garda being investigated by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) that a listening device had been placed on his car.
That garda has since been charged with serious criminal conduct.
Supt O’Neill says he never did so and fully co-operated with that investigation in relation to the alleged leaking.
He says the failure of the Commissioner to establish the truth is inexcusable.
It was also alleged he was present in the Hurler’s Bar in Limerick on January 9, 2019 when a garda inspector colleague was alleged to have taken cocaine in his presence.
In relation to that allegation, he says the other officer did not take any cocaine and that officer was “the least likely candidate to take or ingest an illicit substance.”
CCTV camera footage showed that the height of what is alleged against the other officer is that he is seen wiping his nose.
The officer has not been charged and it was reasonable to conclude there was no evidence of cocaine use, he says.