State to oppose Garda HR director’s injunction application aimed at preventing his dismissal
January 04 2021 05:39 PM
The State will oppose An Garda Siochana HR director John Barrett’s application for an injunction aimed at preventing the Minister for Justice from dismissing him from his job, the High Court has heard.
Mr Barrett was appointed as the force’s executive director for human resources and people development in 2014, but was suspended from his role in late 2018.
Represented by Mark Harty SC, Mr Barrett claims he was suspended from his position in 2018 after he made a number of protected disclosures to the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and to the Disclosures Tribunal.
Late last month Mr Barrett initiated injunction proceedings aimed at preventing Minister Helen McEntee, based on a recommendation made by the Commissioner Drew Harris earlier this month, from terminating his employment.
Mr Barrett’s lawyers secured permission from the High Court to serve short notice of the injunction application on both the Minister and the Commissioner.
Mr Barrett, who denies any wrongdoing, claims that such a move would be unlawful, and arises following what he claims is a flawed internal civil service investigation into allegations against him.
The injunction would remain in place pending the outcome of an action he launched last year.
The matter returned before Mr Justice Bernard Barton on Monday when Conor Power SC, appearing with David Fennelly Bl, for the Minister and the Commissioner said their client would be opposing the injunction application.
Counsel said the minister was prepared to take no action on the Commissioner’s recommendation if Mr Barrett’s were prepared to make submissions on the matter.
Counsel said the recommendation was made because Commissioner Harris “no longer has any trust or confidence in Mr Barrett as a member of the Garda senior management team.”
Counsel said it is also the respondent’s case that Mr Barrett is not entitled to an injunction, and his clients will oppose his injunction application.
However, Mr Harty rejected that offer on the basis client would not take part in with what counsel said is an “utterly unlawful” process.
Mr Justice Barton adjourned the matter for three weeks after the Minister gave an undertaking not to take any steps in relation to Mr Barrett’s position pending the matter retuning to court.
The judge added that in the meantime the respondents should prepare sworn statements setting out their opposition to Mr Barrett’s application for an injunction.