Ex-garda takes action over refusal to allow him rejoin the force

Mark O’Neill claims his former colleagues bullied him and failed to investigate crimes

A former garda who quit the force after only seven months of service has taken a legal action against the Garda Commissioner for refusing to allow him to rejoin it.

Mark O’Neill claims in sworn documents opened in the High Court that his former colleagues at Wexford Garda station bullied him and failed to investigate crimes and to perform mandatory alcohol-testing checkpoints.

Mr O’Neill alleges that his ex-colleagues failed to put official records on the force’s Pulse database. He also alleges there was a failure to respond to emergency calls, that probationary gardaí were not properly supervised, and that his personal property was damaged.

He resigned from the force in April of last year, having joined only seven months earlier.

Mark Harty SC, for Mr O’Neill, told Judge Richard Humphreys on Wednesday that his client had been a member of the Garda Reserve before joining the force full-time. He resigned soon afterwards, after becoming unhappy over a number of issues.

Mr Harty said Mr O’Neill, from Kill, Co Waterford, had since been prompted to rejoin the force by a Garda superintendent, and had applied to do so in June 2016.

He said Mr O’Neill’s application was not dealt with for 12 months, and that he was informed in June of this year that his application had been refused.

During the year-long wait, Mr O’Neill said he was informed that the allegations he had made about ex-colleagues would have to be investigated before his potential return could be considered.

Mr Harty said that Mr O’Neill had not been given any reasons for the commissioner’s refusal to reinstate him, nor had he been informed of the outcome of any investigation that may or may not have taken place.

Counsel said Mr O’Neill was entitled to know the reasons for the refusal and that the commissioner was obliged to give them. He said O’Neill had disclosed matters internally to senior officers “before such issues had come into the public domain”.

Mr O’Neill has taken judicial review proceedings against the Garda Commissioner and is seeking an order quashing the refusal to let him rejoin the force. He is also seeking an order directing that he be given reasons as to why his application was refused.

He has also asked the court for a declaration that a former garda who has given a superior officer information leading to an investigation is entitled to be kept informed of the progress and result of the investigation.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis, where only one party was present in court.

The judge adjourned the matter to a date in the new law term.

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