Suspension of Garda head of HR sought by Drew Harris
Garda Commissioner requests Minister take immediate action against John Barrett
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has asked Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to immediately suspend one of the highest-ranked civilians in the Garda Síochána.
The commissioner sought the suspension of John Barrett, the Garda’s head of human resources, following disagreements between him and another senior Garda manager, The Irish Times understands.
The allegations are outlined in a letter sent by Mr Harris to Mr Flanagan recently. “My recommendation is for the individual to be suspended,” the Garda Commissioner wrote.
Mr Barrett was central to inquiries into financial irregularities at Templemore Garda College, which he described as an “abuse of the public purse” that must never be repeated.
Meanwhile, he featured prominently, too, in the report from the Disclosures Tribunal headed by Mr Justice Peter Charleton, who found much of Mr Barrett’s evidence “had an imaginative element”.
The findings of the Disclosures Tribunal are not currently a factor in the call for Mr Barrett’s suspension, but consideration is being given to launching separate disciplinary proceedings in relation to them.
As a civil servant and not a sworn member of the Garda, Mr Barrett is answerable to the Minister for Justice, and not the Garda Commissioner, in disciplinary matters. Mr Barrett was not contactable last night.
A senior official with the Department of Justice is likely to conduct a fact-finding exercise into Mr Barrett’s case. Mr Barrett has retained a firm of solicitors, Noble Law, to represent him, it is understood.
If findings are made against him, he could be demoted, suspended without pay or transferred sideways out of the Garda, or dismissed: “There’s been issues between him and other managers in the organisation,” said one source.
The Department of Justice and the Garda refused to comment. Mr Barrett is the second Garda figure whose suspension has been sought by the Garda Commissioner. Following Mr Justice Charleton’s report, he suspended Supt David Taylor.
Photograph: Alan Betson