Three trainee soldiers challenge decision to block graduation over complaint of alleged assault

The three men were informed by the Military Police on September 15th that a complaint had been made against them by a fellow recruit regarding an alleged assault.
Three trainee soldiers challenge decision to block graduation over complaint of alleged assault

Three trainee soldiers have brought a High Court action challenging a decision not to allow them graduate to the next stage of their training for allegedly assaulting and intimidating a fellow recruit.

The action has been taken by Billy Monaghan, Jonathon Concannon and Phil McCarthy who are all serving members of the 12 Infantry Battalion, 1st Brigade of the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF). They are all currently stationed at Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick, and deny any wrongdoing in respect of the other recruit.

The three enlisted in the PDF last May and had completed their recruit training.

Counsel said they had been informed that they had successfully completed their recruit training, however, arising out of an alleged incident last July with another recruit in their platoon, they were not allowed graduate or 'pass out' with the other successful recruits on August 25th, 2021.

Represented by Gerard Humphreys SC, with Tim Dixon Bl, instructed by solicitor Owen Swaine, the three claim that they were informed by the Military Police on September 15th that a complaint had been made against them by a fellow recruit regarding an alleged assault. They claim that the allegations against them are untrue.

Consequences

The decision against them has negative financial, reputational and career consequences for them, their counsel told the court.

Since the meeting with the Military Police in September no disciplinary charges have been brought against them by the PDF, counsel said. In addition, all three have been confined to barracks since August and are currently in a state of "limbo" counsel said.

The three have not been formally heard by the PDF in relation to the allegations against them. Counsel said they are entitled to be heard in relation to the allegations.

All three have a legitimate expectation that they would be allowed graduate and progress their careers, counsel added.

Counsel said their solicitor has contacted the Department of Defence, but was not happy with the manner in which the department has addressed the three soldiers' complaints.

In judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General, the three seek an order quashing the decision preventing them from passing out, pending the investigation by the Military Police.

They also seek declarations including that their suspension amounts to an imposition of a severe penalty which is disproportionate and in breach of their rights to a fair hearing.

The recruits' action came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday and the judge, on an ex-parte basis, directed that the application be heard in the presence of lawyers for the respondents.

Given the urgency of the matter the judge said he was adjourning the case to a date next week.

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