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Sunday 20 October 2019

Garda chief defends internal points inquiry

Brian Hutton

Garda chief Martin Callinan has defended an internal inquiry into the improper quashing of penalty points by some of his officers.

Under questioning by a powerful parliamentary watchdog, the commissioner dismissed suggestions that the force should not be investigating itself.

Mr Callinan said his assistant commissioner John O'Mahony, who headed the probe into alleged wrongdoing within his ranks, was renowned for his honesty and integrity.

The investigation was "first class" and had laid bare all the facts over the controversy "warts and all", he told TDs and senators on the public accounts committee.

But Independent TD Shane Ross said the six-month long probe, sparked by two whistleblowers, could not be seen as credible because it was not carried out by outsiders.

"You are commissioner. It's in your interest that he (asst commissioner O'Mahony) produces a report that exonerates and is favourable to the Gardai," he said.

Mr Ross compared the internal report giving the force a "clean bill of health" with a recent independent Garda Ombudsman investigation over alleged collusion with a drugs trafficker which was heavily critical of the force.

Asked why the Garda Ombudsman was not called in over the penalty points claims, Mr Callinan said: "These are matters beyond my control."

Mr Ross said the Garda was at war with the Ombudsman over its findings, and accused the force of being fairly unaccountable and difficult when it came to giving out information.

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