Eight NCT staff suspended over claims bribes taken to pass cars
EIGHT National Car Test (NCT) employees have been suspended following allegations that bribes were taken to pass unfit cars, the Irish Independent has learnt.
On Monday, RTE's 'Prime Time Investigates' revealed that two taxis, deemed dangerous and unfit by experts and initially failed in the NCT, were passed after the payment of €100 per car.
It is understood that following the revelations, five testers at one NCT centre and three at another were suspended on full pay pending an investigation.
Applus, the company that runs the NCT, has launched an inquiry into the allegations.
Last night, it confirmed "a number of staff" had been suspended but would not comment further.
Gardai have also been asked to investigate by Noel Brett, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, which oversees the NCT.
In a statement yesterday, Applus said the NCT represented "a microcosm of Irish society".
It said it was a "disappointing reflection" if any employee could be tempted into committing such serious fraud for personal financial gain.
"These individuals are not only putting their own employment at risk, but are creating real danger by allowing potentially defective vehicles back on our roads," the statement added.
Applus has asked for a copy of the RTE footage, which will be handed over to gardai.
John Usher, of the National Taxi Drivers' Federation, said the programme provided the first real evidence of such illegal activity and he hoped it would begin a process of rectifying such problems.
"We have rules and regulations there, but you can't legislate for what happens at the back door of the NCT," he said.
A number of customers at one NCT centre said they were concerned about the system put in place by the facility.
Clare Levington, from Lucan, said she felt the whole system needed an overhaul.
"There needs to be a closer watch put on them," she said.
"I think that the contract should go out to tender again," another customer said.
The Government said the entire NCT testing system was being reviewed.
Double-jobbing drivers working 23 hours a day, dangerous vehicles, unvetted drivers with criminal records and ways to pass an NCT in an unroadworthy car were uncovered by the 'Prime Time Investigates' team.
The programme also exposed how taxis could be rented for a weekend for as little as €100 by drivers who didn't have the necessary PSV (public service vehicle) licences and garda vetting.