Call for public inquiry into Limerick ‘penalty points’ investigation

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Limerick solicitor Dan O'Gorman.

A SOLICITOR representing a retired Garda Superintendent charged in connection with an investigation into the alleged cancellation of penalty points for well-known hurling and political personalties in Limerick has called for a public inquiry into the investigation.

The call came from Limerick solicitor Dan O’Gorman after a number of individuals who were questioned as part of the investigation were told they will not be prosecuted.

Mr O’Gorman is representing retired Limerick Garda Superintendent Eamon O’Neill, who is facing trial on 30 counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice as a result of the investigation.

“I am not at all surprised by this development, as I highlighted from the beginning I had grave concerns in relation to this entire investigation,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“On a personal level, I am very pleased for the people and their families who were part of this investigation, that any ‘cloud’ over them no longer exists. However, there are still others that remain in an air of uncertainty.”

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“I have requested that a public inquiry take place in relation to this affair.”

Mr O’Gorman also called on Justice Minister Helen McEntee to review the entire investigation.

Along with Mr O’Neill, four serving Gardai are facing trial on a total of twelve charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice, in that they were allegedly involved in attempting to square away penalty points.

They are Sergeant Michelle Leahy, Roxboro Road Garda Station; Sergeant Anne Marie Hassett, Kerry Division, formerly Limerick; Garda Tom McGlinchey, Murroe Garda Station; and Garda Colm Geary, Clare Division.

Retired Garda Superintendent Eamon O’Neill.

A number of Gardaí in Limerick and Clare remain on suspension pending a final outcome of the probe which has been ongoing for the past three years.

A source said the possibility remains that those who have been told they will not be prosecuted may yet find themselves being brought as witnesses for the State in the trial of Mr O’Neill and the four serving Gardaí.

One of the dozens of people whose mobile phone was seized by armed detectives and was interviewed under caution, described as “deeply disturbing” the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) probe, which Gardaí said is “ongoing”.

While the person said it was a “huge relief”, they will not be prosecuted, they added that it was “beyond shocking what went on, making criminals out of ordinary people”.

“It was shocking stuff, Gardaí coming to your house, it was horrific.

“Gardaí came to my home and I could see they were armed. They had a search warrant for the house and they wanted my phone. They said they were investigating me.

“They took away my phone. I gave it to them without any hesitation because I wanted to comply with everything. It was shocking and it would seriously damage your confidence in the decision making in the force.

“I spent a number of hours in a Garda station with my solicitor. The interview was very intense. They were emphasising throughout the whole thing that this was part of a bigger investigation.

“It was worrying, but calling to houses with search warrants in the dark of night was extremely disturbing. It was way over the top.”

“I was told that the Director of Public Prosecutions has advised Gardaí that they have no grounds for prosecution and that they would be returning our phones.”

A Garda spokesman said: “As this remains an ongoing criminal investigation, An Garda Síochána cannot make any comment either in general or on specific aspects.”

“An Garda Síochána does not comment on matters before the Courts,” he added.

Meanwhile, a well known All-Ireland winning hurler who two years ago was suspected by Gardai of having committed perjury in relation to a road traffic case has still not been charged with any offence.