Garvey v Ireland

JurisdictionIreland
Judgment Date09 March 1979
Date09 March 1979
Docket Number[1978 No. 981P]
CourtSupreme Court
(S.C.)
Garvey
and
Ireland

Office holder -Removal from office - Natural justice - Fair procedures - Removal by Government authorised by pre-Constitution statute - Arbitrary removal not prohibited in terms - Whether such removal prohibited otherwise - Police Forces Amalgamation Act, 1925 (No. 7), s. 6, sub-s. 2 - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Articles 40, 50.

Section 6, sub-s. 2, of the Act of 1925 (as adapted) provides that the Commissioner of the Garda SÃochána shall be appointed by the Government and that, while holding that office, the Commissioner "may at any time be removed"by the Government. The plaintiff was duly appointed to the office of Commissioner on the 2nd September, 1975. On the 15th December, 1977, the Minister for Justice informed the plaintiff of certain complaints that had been made against him; the plaintiff replied to the Minister in writing and orally on the 21st and 22nd December respectively. The plaintiff alleged that on the latter occasion he was informed that it was probable that an inquiry would be held toinvestigate the complaints. On the 19th January, 1978, a letter was delivered to the plaintiff in which he was informed by the Government that he was removed from the office of Commissioner as from that date, unless he resigned within two hours of the receipt by him of the letter. The plaintiff, who had not been informed that his removal from office was being considered, refused to resign his office. The plaintiff brought an action in the High Court in which he claimed (inter alia) a declaration that, in exercising the power of removal conferred by s. 6, sub-s. 2, of the Act of 1925, the Government was bound to comply with the requirements of natural justice and of constitutional justice or, in the event of the Government not being so bound, a declaration that the provisions of that sub-section were inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution and had not been continued in force pursuant to Article 50 of the Constitution. At the trial of preliminary points of law which arose from the issues created by the defence of the defendant members of the Government, it was Held, by McWilliam J., in ruling the points of law, 1, that the...

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