Judge: 'Go Safe speed camera vans bring law into disrepute'
A judge in Monaghan has dismissed all speeding cases involving Go Safe vans as he said they were bringing the law into disrepute.
Judge Sean McBride dismissed 17 prosecutions in counties Monaghan and Cavan at Monaghan District Court yesterday.
He said that he was throwing out all of the cases in his area because he believed that "the chain of evidence was inherently flawed".
The judge questioned the integrity of the Go Safe vans and said that there were "defects in the serving of the summonses".
However, Judge McBride said that the vans were operating just outside or inside 30km/h zones in places where detecting offences was like fishing in a "goldfish bowl".
The Garda Fixed Penalty Office challenged Judge McBride's ruling in court.
Inspector John Joseph McDonald said that he was adamant that the vans were operating in accident black spots where serious and fatal accidents occur. He insisted that the vans were "saving 25 lives a year on Irish roads".
The Department of Justice last night confirmed it has requested a report from the gardai about the cases dismissed in Monaghan.
Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan has written to the chairman of the Oireachtas Transport Committee John O'Mahoney to request a review of the use of Go Safe vans. "It is clear that the system is not working at the moment," said Mr O'Donovan.
A recent study by Trinity College found that speed camera vans save 23 lives annually in Ireland and prevent 40 "serious injury crashes".
The latest ruling follows on from a decision in Clare in October when 98 speeding cases were struck out by a judge.
On that occasion Judge Patrick Durcan said that 'Go Safe' staff were unable to demonstrate the requisite legal authority to provide evidence on behalf of gardai.
The judge, who has previously criticised the Go Safe camera system, also ruled there was no evidence to prove whether or not the fixed charge notices had been paid.
Earlier this year the High Court ruled that a defendant should have been given a picture of his car at the time of an alleged offence before being taken to court.
Since 2009, more than 1,300 cases involving private cameras and garda cameras have been dismissed in court.
The Go Safe vans are operated by a private company on behalf of the gardai and are different to the vans operated by the Garda Traffic Corps.
They are run by a company called Road Safety Operations Ireland and are distinct to the Gatso vans used by gardai.
The Justice Department has already received a report about the cases dismissed in Ennis and the Gardai are seeking legal advice in relation to the decisions in those cases.
Mr O'Donovan said there were questions around the issuing of notices and location of vans.
"These, and other issues, need to be discussed in detail."