Sunday 22 April 2018

Callinan may take legal action to halt PAC quizzing whistleblowers

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has indicated he may take legal action to halt plans by the Dail Public Accounts Committee quizzing two whistleblowers over alleged abuse of the penalty points system by gardai.

One of whistleblowers has been invited to give evidence next Thursday, while the second one, a retired garda, indicated today he also wished to appear before the committee.

At the committee this afternoon, Mr Callinan described these developments as "extremely unfair", saying the whistleblowers "may very well be misguided on the state of the information they have".

He said he would be seeking legal advice on this and would "take whatever action is necessary to protect An Garda Siochana."

"I will have to take legal advice. My personal view is that a member of An Garda Siochana, serving or retired, should not be using this forum to discuss matters of this importance," said Mr Callinan.

"It will certainly have an adverse affect on the maintenance of discipline and good order in An Garda Siochana," he added.

The commissioner said he could not allow a situation where he would be "usurped by subordinates".

Mr Callinan said this was not a case of "circling the wagons" and that no one could accuse him of not being tough on wrongdoing within the force.

The commissioner told the committee that information provided by the two whistleblowers did not give the full picture.

He said they would only have been looking at "a snapshot" from the Garda Pulse system and they would not have had access to the audit trail held at the district office. It would have been impossible to conclude whether garda discretion was used correctly or incorrectly without having access to the audit trail, he said.

Mr Callinan also took exception to comments by Mr Nolan that the controversy was "a national scandal".

"What is the national scandal here?" he said.

Committee chairman John McGuinness gave details of some of the cases which had been highlighted by one of the whistleblowers.

They included one case where a person had their points cancelled on the basis they were going to a court hearing. The whistleblower investigated this and found there was no court held that day.

In a second case a garda had his points quashed after claiming to have been on duty. But the whistleblower found the garda was actually on sick leave at the time.

Mr McGuinness said the committee had compiled a report based on "a box of evidence" supplied by one of the whistleblowers.

"It is very disturbing, I have to say. There is a need for a comprehensive response to this document," Mr McGuinness told the commissioner.

Mr Callinan said it was "extremely unfair that this position is now evolving".

He said he had not seen the records that had been supplied by the whistleblower and that there were "ample fora" within An Garda Siochana for officers to air grievances.

He said one of the whistleblowers had made a complaint on 20 issues under garda fraud regulations. A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, but not prosecution was recommended.

The second whistleblower made a similar complaint, citing 17 specific cases of alleged criminality, he said. A file on this had gone to the DPP.

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

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