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Monday 22 September 2014

TDs back down on publishing quashed penalty points dossier

Treacy Hogan and Tom Brady

Published 21/12/2012 | 05:00

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GARDAI have shot down a whistleblower's claim that a motorist was involved in a fatal accident after his penalty points were quashed by a garda.

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Garda inquiries have established that the motorist was not directly involved in the accident, but was being called as a witness in an investigation into the road death.

The revelation came after a group of TDs backed down on plans to publish a dossier containing tens of thousands of people who allegedly had points removed from their licences.

Independents Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Joan Collins and Luke Flanagan planned to allow media access to the dossier from two garda whistleblowers at a press conference in Dublin.

The planned move sparked an angry response from Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The minister urged the deputies not to pre-empt the completion of a garda inquiry into allegations made in relation to the cancellation of fixed ticket charges. Mr Shatter also warned such a move would violate the privacy of citizens, contrary to data protection laws.

The TDs went ahead with the briefing, but said they were not going to allow the names – taken from the Garda Pulse computer system – to be made public.

This followed contacts from the office of the Data Protection Commissioner, which warned of legal consequences if they went public with the names. The deputies instead called for an independent inquiry into allegations that as many as 50,000 fines and penalty points had been cancelled by senior gardai.

Speeding

The deputies published 20 examples of cancelled penalty points. Allegations in the dossier include:

• A superintendent terminated two tickets for the wives of two gardai caught speeding in other counties and the points for an ex-superintendent. Speeding points for the same superintendent's wife were also allegedly terminated by an inspector in another county.

• At least six cases where drivers who had penalty points quashed were subsequently involved in fatal crashes.

• A motorist, involved in a hit and run in which a pedestrian died, previously had a speeding ticket for 135km in a 100km zone terminated by an inspector.

• A driver killed in a car crash had a speeding ticket quashed a month earlier.

One garda inspector allegedly cancelled up to 1,000 fixed notices for drivers, Mr Wallace claimed. The dossier claimed 36,839 speeding tickets had been quashed in the past four years, along with 3,270 for using a mobile phone while driving, 1,200 for careless driving, 1,871 for not not using seat belts, and 943 for breaking red lights.

It is also claimed that points were quashed for off-duty gardai or members of their families. A further 22,000 tickets issued for tax and insurance reasons were also quashed.

Garda superintendents have the power to cancel penalty points and can also intervene if written to by a motorist who wishes to appeal. Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has appointed an assistant commissioner, John O'Mahony, to examine the accusations.

Irish Independent

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