Committee Reports::Interim and Final Report - Appropriation Accounts 1938 - 1939::29 February, 1940::Appendix



Subhead F—Defence of Public Officials—of the Law Charges Vote makes provision for the payment in certain cases of expenses incurred in actions taken against public officials, such as members of the Gárda Síochána, District Justices and County Registrars, for acts done by them in the execution of their duty. The great bulk of these actions are naturally taken against members of the Gárdaí who are in closer contact with the general public than other officials.

2. The guiding principle on which are based decisions as to whether the expenses of Gárda defendants in each particular case will or will not be borne by the State is founded on a decision of the Executive Council of the former Government issued on the 3rd July, 1929, to the effect that, where proceedings are taken against members of the Gárda Síochána arising out of some act done bona fide in the execution of their duty, the cost of the defence in such proceedings should be borne on public funds. The present Government did not modify the decision of its predecessor.

3. In the case of Lynch v. Fitzgerald and Others, the Department of Finance in February, 1935, decided, on representations made by the Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána and by the Department of Justice, on the well-known facts of the case, that the expenses of the defendants in the action should be borne by the State. The case was subsequently debated at length in the Dáil on the 7th March, 1935, on the Vote for Law Charges (Vol. 55: cols. 571-583) when the attitude of the Government in the matter was made clear. The Judgments of the High Court in April, 1937, and of the Supreme Court in July, 1937, which were reported at length in the public Press, were not regarded as furnishing any sufficient reason for departure from the decision already taken (the Judgments will be found, if required, in Parts VI-VII of the Irish Reports, 1938). Reference might in this connection be made to the debate, on 23rd March, 1938, on the Vote for the Office of the Minister for Justice (Volume 70, cols. 826-877) during the course of which the Minister for Justice stated the viewpoint of the Government following the Court Judgments in the case.

(Signed) J. J. McELLIGOTT,

Secretary, Department of Finance.

25 Abrán, 1939.