Monday 23 September 2019

3,800 motorists to appeal wrong convictions before Christmas

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Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Around 3,800 appeals against fixed-charge notices wrongly issued to motorists will come before the courts in the run-up to Christmas, the Irish Independent has learned.

Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cúalain will today apologise for the issues surrounding the Fixed Charge Processing System (FCPS) and fake breath tests.

He will admit there were "major failings" with how gardaí dealt with both issues "over a significant period of time".

Mr Ó Cúalain will tell the Oireachtas Justice Committee that he is prepared to co-operate with all oversight bodies who review the work of An Garda Síochána.

When she retired last month Nóirín O'Sullivan cited the "unending cycle of requests, questions, instructions and public hearings involving various agencies, including the Public Accounts Committee, the Justice and Equality Committee, the Policing Authority, and various other inquiries" as a significant impediment on her ability to do her job.

However, Mr Ó Cúalain will say the force's interactions with the various agencies "should result in an improvement in the service we provide to the public".

"We fully recognise that we need to change. We need to change our culture," he will say.

In an opening statement to the committee, seen by the Irish Independent, he will also update politicians on the efforts being made to correct the misapplication of penalty points to 11,924 people since 2006.

Gardaí have now examined 99pc of these cases and are working with the Court Service to ensure all wrongful convictions are appealed.

"In July 2017, we brought 67 test appeal cases before the Dublin Circuit Court to be heard by the president of the Circuit Court," Mr Ó Cúalain will say.

"All of the cases were successfully appealed and the Court Service is in the process of updating the records of those concerned and returning fines paid."

A further 3,800 are scheduled to be heard in Circuit Courts in December 2017, he will say.

In relation to fake breath tests Mr Ó Cúalain will outline measures taken over the summer to "address the deficiencies" highlighted by the scandal.

A change to Pulse in August means that only essential data is now collected; the Medical Bureau of Road Safety has commenced a tender process for new Drager devices which will improve recording; and improved training methods are being developed.

Irish Independent

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