Tuesday 16 January 2018

Garda chief pledges ‘rigorous’ probe into penalty point claims

Jason O’Brien

THE Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has this morning made an unprecedented intervention amid allegations that Gardaí have cancelled a large number of penalty points for motorists.

The Commissioner rejected a suggestion that a “culture of non-enforcement of penalties” was being tolerated by An Garda Síochána.

It has been alleged that tens of thousands of penalty points have been terminated for motorists around the country.

In a statement this morning Callinan said that the internal probe into the claims – to be carried out by Assistant Garda commissioner John O’Mahoney - will be “comprehensive and rigorous, whatever the circumstances behind them”.

“There is no question of what has been described as a culture of non-enforcement of penalties being tolerated by An Garda Síochána,” he said.

“The public can be assured that the investigation into the allegations which have been made will be comprehensive and rigorous, whatever the circumstances behind them,” he added.

“If issues emerge as to how some individual cases were dealt with, these will be pursued fully. Equally, if any lessons can be learned from the examination when it is complete, these will be taken on board.”

It follows revelations in the Irish Independent that at least two judges, a leading rugby player and a television presenter were among those who had penalty points written off, according to a garda whistleblower.

Officials at the Department of Justice are examining the claims after a serving officer came forward with claims that colleagues wrote off the points for a number of prominent people.

The garda sergeant compiled a dossier of printouts from the garda PULSE system relating to 50,000 cases where penalty points were quashed by gardai.

Among those who had their points dropped were several "pillars of society". A number of serving and former gardai were also implicated.

It is unclear whether these people sought to have their points quashed or if a garda wrote them off on their own initiative.

“It is important to emphasise that the allegations generally appear to be based solely on an examination of PULSE records,” Mr Callinan said.

“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.

“In those circumstances, it is very unfair both to members of the Force, and to the people who were the subject of the notices, to assert wrongdoing in the absence of a determination of the full facts.

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

It is important that the present examination be allowed to proceed unhindered and that there should be no rush to judgement in advance of a full determination of the facts.

“In the meantime, one fact should be clear: An Garda Síochána is determined to enforce fully Road Traffic legislation so as to make our roads safer for all.

Penalty points were introduced 10 years ago and now cover 48 offences.

Figures show 154 people have been killed on Irish roads so far this year, compared to 169 last year and 376 for 2002.

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