A reserve soldier in the Republic who was spokesman for the family of a man convicted of the murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe has brought a High Court challenge against his discharge from the force.
Marketing executive Kealan Harrington strongly denies claims he is a risk to national security.
He believes his dismissal is linked to his role as public spokesperson for the family of Aaron Brady, the Co Armagh man convicted and jailed last year for the 2013 murder of Mr Donohoe.
The High Court in Dublin heard Mr Harrington joined the Irish Reserve Defence Forces in 2014. A year later he joined the Permanent Defence Forces, but left shortly afterwards.
In 2019 he re-enlisted in the Reserves and was subject to security vetting and security analysis. He claims that last April following a meeting with three officers he was told he was being discharged as his services were no longer required and that he was a security risk to the State.
He claims that despite making requests to be furnished with information concerning the reasons for his discharge, nothing has been provided to him.
He claims his discharge is unlawful and was made in breach of natural and constitutional justice.
Mr Harrington, from Ballintemple, Co Cork, also claims the manner of his discharge contravenes Defence Force Regulations. He claims he was given no notice of the fact he was being discharged. At the meeting with his superiors in April he claims he was denied the chance to make his case, had been denied a fair hearing, and he has been dismissed without any proper agreed process whatsoever.
In judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General, Mr Harrington seeks an order quashing the decision, made effective on May 17 last, to discharge him from the Reserves.
Represented by David Geoghagan BL, Mr Harrington also seeks an order remitting the purported discharge to the Minister to be determined in law and in accordance with regulations applicable to members of the Reserve Defence Forces.
Counsel said Mr Harrington was never told in advance what the April meeting was about, nor has he ever been presented with the reasons or grounds for asserting that he is a security risk to the State.
Counsel said that following an exchange of correspondence between Mr Harrington’s solicitors and the Defence Forces his client was informed that the decision to dismiss him arose out of an incident at the gate of Collins Barracks, Cork, last October.
He said that when passing the gate he asked the guard on duty when the gym and training sessions, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions, would re-start.
He said he was asked for his military ID, but did not have any. He was kept there until an officer attended and asked him why he was attempting to gain access.
Counsel said his client believes that incident arose due to “a misunderstanding”. Counsel said Mr Harrington was subsequently brought in for a meeting with the Military Police over the incident.
Mr Harrington said he was not initially told why the meeting was called but claims he was eventually told that it was part of a disciplinary process.
Counsel said his client believes that Mr Harrington’s decision to act as a spokesperson for the family of convicted murderer Aaron Brady is the reason for his discharge from the RDF.
Mr Harrington said that following an approach by a friend he is developing an online campaign to help the Brady family. They claim Crossmaglen man Brady, who is appealing his conviction, is innocent of Mr Donohoe’s murder.
His involvement in this campaign was never mentioned to him by the Defence Forces.
The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on an ex parte basis — in which only one side is represented — and the judge directed that the application for permission to bring the challenge be made on notice to the respondents.
The matter will return in November.