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In a recent development at Newcastle West, District-Inspectors F. A. Britton (Tralee) and Patrick McEntee (Bruff) presided over an inquiry into charges brought against members of the local police force. The inquiry shed light on allegations of neglect of duty and intoxication within the ranks.

District-Inspector Beirne took on the role of prosecutor, while Mr J. H. Moran, a solicitor from Limerick, represented the defence. The focus of the inquiry centred on Sergeant Kirwan, who faced charges related to an incident involving Constable Michael Clohessy.

Sergeant Kirwan faced three specific charges: firstly, neglect of duty for failing to make an entry in his station notebook regarding Constable Clohessy’s condition upon returning off duty on February 4th; secondly, failing to ensure the well-being of Constable Clohessy between 6 and 7 p.m. on the same date; and thirdly, sending Constable Clohessy out on duty at 7 p.m. on February 4th while allegedly under the influence of alcohol.

District-Inspector Beirne presented Sergeant Kirwan’s report from February 5th and 7th as evidence, along with the Sergeant’s station notebook, which lacked an entry regarding the matters in question on February 4th. The only entry pertained to February 5th when the Sergeant reported submitting a related report to the District Inspector.

During cross-examination, Sergeant Kirwan defended himself by stating that he had informed the accused of some details of the case on the night of February 4th. He asserted that he believed he had fulfilled his obligations by reporting the matter fully and making the necessary entry on February 5th. According to the Sergeant, there was no attempt to conceal any information, and he had consistently assisted in maintaining discipline during his tenure of three and a half years.

The first case was then concluded, leading to the subsequent charge against Constable Clohessy. District-Inspector Beirne accused him of being drunk on February 4th around 2:15 p.m. when returning off-duty. The Constable vehemently denied the charge.

District-Inspector Beirne recounted his observations on February 4th, stating that both Constables Clohessy and John G. Rogers returned off-duty, emitting a strong smell of alcohol. Constable Clohessy’s articulation was reportedly very imperfect, leading the District-Inspector to conclude that he was inebriated. Constable Horan was placed in charge of Clohessy, and the incident was reported.

During cross-examination by Mr Moran, District-Inspector Beirne affirmed that he had no previous complaints against Constable Clohessy during his time under his charge. He maintained that he did not make mistakes regarding a person’s condition related to sobriety or drunkenness.

Sergeant Kirwan, providing additional testimony, recalled encountering Constable Clohessy in the dayroom around 25 minutes past 8 on the same evening. The Sergeant noted changes in Clohessy’s usual appearance, including drowsiness, partially closed eyelids, paleness, and a noticeable smell of alcohol.

The inquiry, marked by these charges and counterarguments, highlights the complexities faced by law enforcement in maintaining discipline and addressing internal issues. As the proceedings continue, the Newcastle West community awaits the resolution of these matters with a keen interest in upholding the integrity of the police force.

Constabulary Gazette (Dublin) – Saturday 27 April 1912

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