ONE of the five Limerick Gardaí suspended for the past two-and-a-half years on suspicion of ‘squaring away’ motoring offences has claimed he was receiving so many calls from colleagues – often his superiors – to square tickets that he had to change his phone number.
The Garda, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he is determined to clear his name and return to the job he loves with his head held high.
He was among five Gardaí suspended on full pay from the Limerick Divisional Traffic Corps in October 2020. No charges have been brought against any of the five.
Four other Gardaí have been charged and are before the courts in relation to the same probe which is led by the National Bureau of Crime Investigation (NBCI) in conjunction with the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).
The suspended Garda, who has not been charged, explained how his job left him in a compromised position.
He told the Sunday Independent that a couple of years before the NCBI probe began, he was getting so many calls from colleagues, often from his superiors, to square away tickets that he had to change his phone number.
At the Limerick station where the Garda was based, messages were frequently left for him in a ledger. There would be a square symbol drawn beside it, along with the name and number of the Garda asking him to phone them back.
He added that on several occasions he called back colleagues to refuse their requests, but when it came to his superiors, he sometimes felt as if he had no choice.
“I would not like any other honest Garda to be in our position, but it makes no sense that we were singled out over many others. I think, at this stage, we just deserve some answers. This continues to be a black cloud hanging over us.”
He said he was shocked when he was told in October 2020 he was being suspended. His suspension was authorised one year on from when he was first questioned by the NBCI, during which he said he gave “honest answers”.
While the five suspended officers are still on full pay, they are not entitled to a range of allowances, as well as the potential for overtime.
“In reality, I’ve lost out on earning almost €30,000 since I’ve been suspended,” said the Garda.
It is understood that up to 1,400 criminal cases, consisting mainly of drink, dangerous and drug-driving, as well as public order offences, have had to be thrown out of court because the investigations were led by the five suspended officers.