Speeding driver in points row 'had same name as GAA star'
Published 23/01/2014 | 02:30
Claims that a GAA personality escaped penalty points although he was caught speeding five times in one day were dismissed by gardai.
The suggestions were made to the media by one of two garda "whistleblowers" in a series of allegations of corrupt practice by senior officers.
The whistleblower has presented details of his claims to the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which will discuss the controversy today.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan will give evidence to the PAC, having made a presentation to the members last May.
Senior officers said last night that the five speeding offences in one day were committed by a driver who had the same name as the personality but was not connected to him.
They said gardai in the area had exercised their discretion because the man told gardai his house was flooded and he was attempting to repair the damage and save his belongings.
They said the error over the names probably arose because neither of the whistleblowers would have had access to details of any of the cases but were relying on scant details listed on the garda Pulse computer system.
Gardai strongly disputed the allegation that around 200 senior officers had routinely quashed penalty points for friends, family and powerful people in Irish society.
The whistleblower also claimed that penalty points had been cancelled for another speeding driver on the grounds that the car was undergoing an NCT test on a particular date in October 2012 but it had later been established that the car had not been tested on that date.
However, gardai said discretion was used after the manager of the NCT centre had written to them, confirmed the car was being tested and had offered to pay the speeding fine.
Two boxes of material were passed to the garda authorities in the last 24 hours. A third box was being held by the Public Accounts Committee.
The contents were being studied by officers tonight in advance of tomorrow's meeting.
A large number of the allegations have already been examined as part of an investigation, led by Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony and published last May.
His report found there was no evidence that fixed charge notices, which could lead to penalty points for road traffic offences, had been improperly cancelled by gardai because of corruption, deception, falsifying records or any malpractice.
It reported that almost 96pc of the notices had been processed through the garda system without being terminated. The report focused on 189 allegations, lodged by the whistleblowers, covering a total of 2,198 cancellations of fixed charge notices.
It concluded that after a detailed analysis of the documentation, it could be clearly shown that allegations of criminal conduct could not be substantiated.
However, in one case which was examined separately in a criminal investigation, a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine if charges should be brought.
One of the whistleblowers has since retired from the force but the other is still serving in a Midlands station.
PAC chairman John McGuinness said last night that discretion played an important role in how a garda determined if someone would be subject to a penalty.
But how that discretion could be applied in a consistent and fair way was a key question in any discussion surrounding the penalty points system.
Meanwhile, the Garda Inspectorate said its report on the penalty points system would be completed within weeks and sent to Justice Minister Alan Shatter.