Four gardaí and a private citizen have been charged as part of a two year investigation into alleged garda corruption in the south of the country.

The five have been accused of perverting the course of justice following an investigation by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

They were arrested today and charged before being released on bail to appear in court in Limerick next month.

Garda Headquarters said today the investigation is ongoing.

The Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation first suspected in early 2019 that information had been disclosed about a Criminal Assets Bureau investigation into the activities of a criminal gang in Munster.

The gang is suspected of being involved in various criminal activity including drug trafficking and was targeted by the CAB.

However, CAB also suspected that information from its investigation had been leaked to members of the gang. and another national specialist unit, the NBCI was called in.

The subsequent investigation is being led by the head of serious and organised crime Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll

Following a series of coordinated searches in 2019, three members of the gardaí - including two senior officers - were arrested and questioned.

One denied any allegations of wrongdoing in the High Court and applied to have the suspension lifted.

However the High Court dismissed that application last year and the officer subsequently retired from the gardaí.

One garda and a businessman were subsequently charged and are currently before the courts.

The investigation continued and detectives identified a large number of fixed charge penalty notices which they suspect were not being prosecuted and were being 'struck out’ in court.

A further eight gardaí were suspended last year, the largest ever suspended in one day. It brought to ten the total on suspension.

Some gardaí are suspected of striking out 'multiples' of fixed charge notices, others are suspected of advising people on how to avoid getting penalty points.

A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who has now directed that five people, four gardaí and a civilian were to be prosecuted.

Garda Headquarters confirmed that all five were arrested and charged today with offences relating to perverting the course of justice following DPP's directions.

All have been released on station bail and are due to appear in court in Limerick on 14 May.

It brings to seven the total number of people who have been charged in connection with the investigation.

Garda Headquarters also said today that it would not comment further as the investigation by the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation is continuing.