Garda chief confident of 'rigorous' probe into points row
THE Garda Commissioner says allegations of wrongdoing in the force are a matter of "huge concern" to him as the penalty points controversy continues.
But Commissioner Martin Callinan insisted his force was quite capable of investigating the allegations.
He was commenting on claims by a garda sergeant that thousands of penalty points for road traffic offences had been cancelled on appeal to a garda superintendent.
The Irish Independent revealed that at least two judges, a leading rugby player and a television presenter were among those who had penalty points written off, according to the whistleblower.
Mr Callinan has already appointed Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony to take charge of the investigation.
It has been alleged that tens of thousands of penalty points have been terminated for motorists around the country.
A superintendent has the power to cancel points if he receives an appeal in writing, outlining the grounds why the offender feels the points should not be applied.
Mr Callinan said gardai had shown in the past that they had the capacity to examine alleged wrongdoing by members and, where this was proven, had taken action.
"Any allegation of impropriety, regardless of whether it is a junior member or a senior officer, is a matter of huge concern and public interest.
"That is why it is so important that we allow the assistant commissioner's team to get on with the business and reach proper conclusions at the end of the day," he added.
"That's what we intend to do and the investigation will be rigorous and comprehensive."
He was speaking at the launch of the annual Christmas and new year road safety campaign yesterday at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.
The report on the investigation will be forwarded to Justice Minister Alan Shatter when completed, and it will be up to him to determine whether the report should be published.
He also said the proper enforcement of the road traffic laws would continue to be a priority for the force.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he had full confidence in the garda inquiries and did not think there was any need for an independent investigation.
The minister indicated that he was not in favour of people being named during the current controversy and he believed it would be an abuse of Dail privilege for any TD to name anyone in the Dail for having had their penalty points cancelled.