Friday 9 December 2016

Garda Ombudsman needs to get finger on the Pulse

The penalty points saga represents an unseemly side of Irish life and has distracted from other issues

Published 02/02/2014 | 00:00

PENALTY PROBE: The three members of the Garda Ombudsman Commission are, from clockwise from left, Simon O'Brien, Kieran Fitzgerald and Carmel Foley
PENALTY PROBE: The three members of the Garda Ombudsman Commission are, from clockwise from left, Simon O'Brien, Kieran Fitzgerald and Carmel Foley

The independent Garda Ombudsman must now get to the bottom of the penalty points affair. It has dragged on too long. But to do so the Ombudsman needs direct and unfettered access to the Pulse computer system, on which gardai store records.

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The Government recently refused the Ombudsman that kind of access. The Ombudsman currently relies on serving gardai to report what is on Pulse. There have been problems in the past securing appropriate garda co-operation. The Ombudsman is now again seeking what he calls “enhanced access” to Pulse.

Without ongoing independent access to Pulse, who can ensure no future abuses of the system? Members of Oireachtas committees may have strayed outside their terms of reference on this and other issues recently, but there is no denying that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has in recent months exposed matters of public interest that ministers had either missed or kept under wraps.

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