High Court reporters
The Court of Appeal (CoA) has upheld a decision to dismiss a bid by An Garda Síochána’s HR director John Barrett for an injunction preventing the Minister for Justice from dismissing him from his job.
The three-judge court said in its judgement that it was dismissing the appeal on the basis that there had been a “significant delay” by Mr Barrett before he sought the injunction.
Mr Barrett had sought an injunction preventing the Minister, based on a recommendation made by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, from terminating his employment.
Last year, the High Court refused to grant Mr Barrett an injunction, which, if granted, would have prevented his dismissal until his main action against the Minister and the Garda Commissioner has been determined.
While no date has been fixed for the hearing of that action, it is understood that efforts are being made to bring the case to trial.
In his proceedings against the Minister and the Garda Commissioner, Mr Barrett claims he was wrongfully suspended from his position in 2018 after he made several protected disclosures to the Public Accounts Committee and the Disclosures Tribunal.
The disclosures relate to allegations about financial irregularities at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary and over the treatment of Maurice McCabe by senior gardaí.
Mr Barrett, who denies any wrongdoing, claims such a move would be unlawful, and arises following what he claims is a flawed internal civil service investigation into allegations against him.
Mr Barrett was appointed as An Garda Síochána’s executive director of human resources and people development in 2014 but was suspended from his role in late 2018.
He claims the disciplinary process, which he had disengaged with due to his unhappiness with the lawfulness of the process, is flawed. He remains suspended on pay.
In her judgement last year, Ms Justice Siobhan Stack ruled that Mr Barrett was not entitled to the injunction.
The judge, while not ruling on the outcome of the claim, said she was satisfied that at that stage of the proceedings, Mr Barrett had not raised a serious question that would allow the court to grant the injunction.
Mr Barrett appealed that decision to the CoA.
The Minister and the Garda Commissioner, who had opposed the injunction application, also opposed the appeal.
The court heard that the Garda Commissioner no longer has any trust or confidence in Mr Barrett as a member of the Garda senior management team.
In its ruling dismissing Mr Barrett’s appeal, the CoA, comprised of Ms Justice Una Nic Raifertaigh, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan and Mr Justice Donald Binchy, dismissed the appeal.
Ms Justice Nic Raifertaigh said the disciplinary process commenced against Mr Barrett in May 2018, noting he had taken part in the process before withdrawing in July 2020.
It was not until December 2020 that he first sought the injunction, despite having commenced proceedings some six months earlier, the judge said.
On that ground alone, the CoA said it was satisfied to dismiss Mr Barrett’s appeal.
The court added it did not accept certain findings made by the High Court regarding if certain communications can be presumed at this stage of the proceedings to be deemed protective disclosures under the 2014 Act.
However, this in itself was not a ground to overturn the High Court’s decision.