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29 May 2022

Longford garda subject of false accusations over shooting of dog challenges refusal to backdate his promotion to rank of inspector

A Garda has claimed that his promotion to the rank of inspector was held up for over seven months after he was the subject of "false" and "baseless accusations" of wrongdoing in an incident where he had to shoot a large dog that was set on him.

Inspector Tom Quinn. who was fully vindicated following a GSCO investigation of an incident that occurred in December 2018, was due to be promoted to Inspector in January 2019.

However due to the accusations against him, the High Court heard, his promotion was held up until late August 2019.

As that delay had pension, pay, seniority, reputational and future promotion implications for him, the Inspector sought to have his promotion backdated to January.

That application was refused by the Commissioner.

As a result, Inspector Quinn, who is stationed in Mullingar Co Westmeath, has brought judicial review proceedings aimed at having the Commissioner's refusal to backdate his promotion quashed.

The inspector, represented by Paul McGarry SC, John Berry Bl instructed by Philip Denieffe of Sean Costello solicitors, also seeks an order that his promotion be backdated and declaration that the failure to backdate it beaches natural and constitutional justice.

The Commissioner, who fully accepts that Inspector Quinn was cleared of any wrongdoing, opposes the application, and rejected claims that the refusal to backdate breached the Inspector's rights or impugned his good name.

Paul McGarry SC for the Inspector said his client had been "fully exonerated" following a GSOC investigation to the firearm incident.

His client has, throughout his career in An Garda Siochana, an impeccable disciplinary record.

When serving in the Roscommon-Longford Division in December 2018 the Garda was investigating a criminal operation involving stolen vehicle parts and fraudulent repairs.

When attending a property near Granard in Co Longford, with a civilian, counsel said an altercation broke out.

The property owner, it is alleged, produced a slash hook, and goaded a Belgian Shepherd Malinois dog to attack the Inspector.
The Inspector, who warned the property owner that he was armed, drew his weapon.

Fearing for his own safety after the dog came at him, the then Sergeant Quinn fired one shot, wounding the animal.

A ricochet from that shot caused a minor injury to the property's owner's leg.

The property owner then made a complaint to GSOC, and Inspector Quinn strongly rejected the property owner's account of what happened.

In addition, counsel said that the incident was recorded on a mobile phone, and extracts that suited the complainant's allegations were posted on social media causing distress and upset to Inspector Quinn.

The complainant also alleged to GSOC that the Inspector made some remarks, and laughed at him, when they met at a shop some months later.

That allegation was also denied.

GSOC, in dismissing the complaints, determined that Inspector Quinn had discharged his firearm in a lawful and justified manner.

Mr McGarry said his client had in 2018 gone through the promotion process and was informed he was successful. 

He expected that he would be promoted along with the other successful candidates to the rank of inspector when the results of that process were published in January 2019.

It was accepted that the complaints had to be investigated.

Counsel said that as it was accepted by the Commissioner that the accusations were false and baseless his client was entitled to have his promotion backdated from August to January.
 
Counsel added that criminal proceedings have been brought against the person who made them.

Counsel said that because of the refusal his client had been "left in a worse position" compared to if no accusation had been made against him at all.

This had not been taken in consideration by the Commissioner when asked to backdate Inspector Quinn's promotion, counsel said.

Opposing the application, the Commissioner, represented by Shane Murphy SC, with Gerard Meehan Bl, argued that he retains a discretion under the Garda Siochana's Promotion regulations in recommending a candidate to the rank of inspector.

The Commissioner,  it was claimed said he was entitled to await the outcome of the GSOC investigation, given the very serious incident involving a firearm, before recommending the applicant for promotion to the rank of inspector.

Once he was cleared, he was promoted immediately, the commissioner said.

The applicant was not entitled to be treated as holding the rank of inspector between January and August 2019,and therefore was not entitled to have his promotion backdated.

It is also argued that the action was not brought within the legal time limit allowed.

It was further claimed that the action amounts to a challenge against the decision not to promote Inspector Quinn in January 2019 rather than over a failure to backdate his promotion.

The matter was heard by Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Thursday.

Following the conclusion of submissions from the parties, the Judge reserved his decision, and said he would give judgement in the New Year.

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