Fired: seven gardaí lost their jobs

AT LEAST seven gardaí have been convicted of serious offences including assault, drugs offences, corruption and drink-driving in the past three years.

According to official garda figures, four officers were arrested and convicted of offences since the beginning of 2007. However, a number of other cases have also emerged. The Garda Press Office said: "The number of persons arrested, who have been charged/summonsed, convicted is four: one for drink-driving, one for drugs, one for assault and one for corruption."

A number of other gardaí have not been included in the figures. These include two convicted of assault and a female garda who pleaded guilty to making a false statement.

Last December, two officers, Gavin Keegan and Damien Kildea, were convicted of assaulting a man who was filming a disturbance at a pub on the northside of Dublin.

Last June, a young female garda also pleaded guilty to making a false allegation of rape, the second time she had made a bogus statement. Garda Niamh O'Connor had told colleagues she was attacked in a taxi by the driver and two other men, only to change her story when asked to give a statement.

The 25-year-old garda had been disciplined previously in relation to another incident after dialling 999 and claiming she had been beaten up after locking herself out of her home.

Between 2005 and 2007, seven gardaí lost their jobs after prosecutions were taken against them. They were among 31 members who had faced a variety of charges including drink driving and other motoring offences, theft, assault, harassment, liquor licensing offences and possession of cannabis.

During that period, seven gardaí faced prosecution for drink-driving.

Senior gardaí said the rate of arrest and conviction for officers was low and that it was to be expected in a force which had 14,000 members. One garda said: "You can look at figures like this either of two ways, the fact that gardaí are being prosecuted suggests that internal discipline is working and that there is no fear of people within the force getting away with anything.

"Any time you have a very large organisation like this, you will have some difficulties with people. The figures are not particularly high by international standards."