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Former top garda who joined road safety body had points terminated

Former assistant commissioner forced to explain to Gay Byrne but board satisfied with explanation

A FORMER garda assistant commissioner who sits on the board of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) was forced to explain to its chairman Gay Byrne why he had had three penalty points terminated.

Eddie Rock, who was head of the Garda Traffic Corps before becoming an RSA board member in 2011, was named in a whistleblower's dossier which alleges that thousands of penalty points were written off illegally.

The report, compiled by a serving member of the force, questions the legitimacy of more than 50,000 penalty-point terminations over a three-year period.

The document alleges that points were cancelled for two judges and for one of their wives. Points were also, it is claimed, cancelled for an international rugby star and two journalists – a newspaper reporter and a television broadcaster.

It also alleges that gardai struck off points for their own families and that in one instance a member of the force terminated more than 1,000 penalty points in several counties across the country.

Current Garda Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahoney has been asked to investigate the allegations and will report to Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

In October, the report was sent to the RSA chief executive, Noel Brett, who brought it to the attention of the authority's board and its chairman, Mr Byrne.

The dossier alleged that Mr Rock, who is also a member of the Justice Department's Parole Board, had received two fixed-notice charges but later had them cancelled by gardai.

When the board approached Mr Rock, he revealed that in fact he had had three sets of penalty points overturned – but he said that he had followed the correct procedures for contesting the points in each case.

A source said one of the charges alleged that the ex-garda broke red lights when he was making his way through protesters demonstrating outside a Fine Gael ard fheis; that a second was for parking in a clear-way and that the third was a speeding offence.

Mr Rock told his RSA colleagues, including former Late Late Show host Mr Byrne, that he appealed the charges as a private citizen by writing to the inspector who had issued the fixed-notice charges.

A source said that the board was satisfied with Mr Rock's explanations for the cancellation of the points but was awaiting the outcome of Mr O'Mahoney's report.

The source said, "The system seems to have been used properly and the time between the points seems to be significant.

"On the face of it, he has a very acceptable set of circumstances in each of the three. There is no suggestion that he would have to stand down at this point but they have to wait and see what the full investigation throws up."

The RSA sent the penalty-point dossier to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, which said it was awaiting the outcome of the assistant commissioner's report.

Also, because of the potential loss of around €1.5m to the exchequer, the RSA sent the report to the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG).

A C&AG spokeswoman said it had received the dossier from the RSA and the information was currently being used in the planning of its 2012 audit of An Garda Siochana.

In a previous statement, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he did not want to prejudge the outcome of the assistant commissioner's report and warned against jumping to presumptions of malpractice in all cases.

He said: "It is important to emphasise that the allegations generally appear to be based solely on an examination of Pulse records. In other words, allegations of impropriety are made without it being clear how the person making them would have complete knowledge as to what led to decisions being taken in particular cases or being in a position to assess properly whether the decisions made were appropriate.

"This danger has been highlighted during the course of the examination which is taking place."

The RSA said it was also awaiting the outcome of the assistant commissioner's report and would not be commenting further on the matter.

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