Monday 5 December 2016

Speed charges dropped in camera contract row

Gordon Deegan

Published 22/09/2015 | 02:30

A mobile road safety camera van operated by GoSafe
A mobile road safety camera van operated by GoSafe

Gardaí have withdrawn a prosecution against a man accused of speeding after he won a court order to secure a copy of an €80m contract with the Go Safe consortium, which operates speed camera vans around the country.

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The Go Safe Consortium was recording operating profits of around €50,000 a week in 2012.

However, it has since put its profits out of the public eye by re-registering as an unlimited company, which means it is no longer required to publicly file annual accounts.

The firm's operation has come under intense scrutiny in the past 18 months with district court judges in Clare and Monaghan throwing out en masse Go Safe speeding prosecutions.

Yesterday, a solicitor for the accused man claimed the State was "dodging the bullet" in not releasing the copy of the massive contract by withdrawing the charges.

At Ennis District Court, solicitor Daragh Hassett made the charge after hearing that the State was withdrawing a prosecution against the motorist he was representing.

The accused was detected speeding by the network of speed camera vans operated under the Go Safe contract.

The Go Safe consortium was last year paid €17.23m by gardaí, with the current contract due to expire in November of this year.

At his court, Judge Patrick Durcan has criticised the prosecutions being made by Go Safe employees and acceded to an application from Mr Hassett that the gardaí make available a copy of the contract in respect of a Go Safe prosecution against one of his clients.

However, Insp John O'Sullivan said that the gardaí were withdrawing the Go Safe prosecution against Mr Hassett's client.

As a consequence, Judge Durcan's order for the release of the contract falls.

Insp O'Sullivan said that if Judge Durcan was to make a similar order in the future regarding the contract, gardaí would oppose it too.

In reply, Mr Hassett said: "The State has decided to dodge the bullet and not comply with your order, which still stands.

"I rarely, if ever, disagree with a decision to withdraw a prosecution, but this is completely unfair in the State not complying with the court order."

Judge Durcan agreed, saying: "Everything flows from the prosecution of your client and it is unfair."

However, Judge Durcan said that the story in relation to Go Safe "is one that won't be finalised today".

The Go Safe consortium secured the €80m Garda Síochana contract to operate the speed camera vans in 2009.

The network of 50 Go Safe vans has collected for the State over €20m in speeding penalties and fines over a four-year period.

Go Safe's Fixed Charge Penalties from speeding fine detections have generated €18.9m in income between November 2010 to the end of June 2014.

Irish Independent

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