Thursday 18 December 2014

No face-off for Callinan with garda in penalty points quiz

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

Published 21/01/2014 | 02:30

8/7/2013; Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan speaks at the launch of, Garda Guidelines, titled 'Making a victim statement' at  the Officer's Club, Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / Irish Independent
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan will not be forced to go head to head with a garda whistleblower when he is quizzed about penalty points later this week.

Mr Callinan is due to give evidence at the Dail's Public Accounts Committee, which has been investigating alleged abuses of the system.

A whistleblower, who is a member of the force, has told the committee he wished to give evidence about cases where gardai used controversial discretionary powers to wipe the points of certain motorists.

However, the committee has confirmed that while the whistleblower may be called to give evidence at a future date, there will be no showdown with Mr Callinan this Thursday.

The whistleblower, a serving garda sergeant, provided the committee with a large file - described as "a box of evidence" - about penalty point cancellations last year.

DEMAND

This led to an angry demand from Mr Callinan for the records to be returned to the force. His position was backed by the Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes.

However, this demand was rejected by the committee.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said the committee had now sought legal advice as to whether the whistleblower can be called as a witness. It is due to get a response from a legal adviser later this week.

"It is my view and the view of a number of other members of the committee that this person should give evidence," Mr McGuinness said.

The whistleblower's evidence has the potential to be explosive as he claims that after he first raised concerns about the penalty points issue, he was unfairly targeted in an internal garda investigation into the disappearance of a computer seized in a child pornography case.

The investigation concluded without any disciplinary action being taken against the officer.

Mr Callinan may face questions from members of the committee on this issue.

In a letter released by the PAC last week, Mr Callinan said he would refuse to answer questions about the contents of the whistleblower file.

The commissioner said he would "not be in a position to answer any questions about the files you have in your possession as I do not know what is contained in them".

In an effort to allay data protection concerns, the committee has had the records anony- mised.

Irish Independent

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