Officer at centre of leak probe has suspension extended three months
A senior garda at the centre of a criminal investigation into the alleged leaking of information to the media has seen his suspension from the force extended by a further three months.
The male officer, who has had his phone seized and examined as part of the probe, faces the prospect of a criminal trial.
It emerged last month that Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan had appointed her husband, who serves as a superintendent in Dublin, to lead the investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the officer.
The commissioner defended putting Det Supt Jim McGowan in charge of the probe.
In response to suggestions of a conflict of interest, Ms O'Sullivan said it was common knowledge that her husband serves in the force.
"I think it's a matter of public record that my husband is a detective superintendent in An Garda Siochana and any role that he carries out is in that capacity," she said.
The suspension of the officer being investigated has sent shockwaves through both garda and media circles and has been brought to the attention of Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
The concern was heightened by the fact that the officer was sanctioned to speak directly to journalists as part of his duties.
His suspension is now due to last up until the end of October.
Opposition TDs are expected to raise questions about the officer's suspension when the Dail resumes next month.
The prospect of the matter becoming a hot political issue, similar to previous garda controversies, will concern the minister.
It has now emerged that the garda in question, who has served at various ranks including superintendent, has seen his suspension lengthened.
The suspension involves a significant cut in his pay as well as the seizure of all equipment and material relevant to his work.
The garda investigation began in May and centres on communications between the officer and a number of journalists.
The officer was arrested and questioned in a Dublin garda station for more than 18 hours.
It is understood that as part of the investigation, gardai questioned the officer about specific contacts with several journalists.
Leading officers in the case also sought to interview a journalist who the officer had been in contact with.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the case has "unusual aspects".