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Friday 18 October 2019

Garda Ombudsman asked to investigate penalty points

Tom Brady Security Editor

THE Garda Ombudsman Commission is being asked to carry out an independent inquiry into the penalty points controversy.

A report on whistleblower allegations, which was compiled by an assistant garda commissioner, is being referred to the Ombudsman by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice.

The decision was made by the justice committee at a private session yesterday, after the garda report had been sent to it by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The committee had several options open to it including noting the contents, sending it back to the minister with comments, holding its own hearings into the findings or sending it to the Ombudsman.

Although the members agreed to send it to the Ombudsman, the committee is understood to have reserved the right to hold hearings at a later date.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman said last night that the commission had not yet received the report but would consider it when it arrived.

Last week Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan disclosed that gardai had sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions following an investigation into an alleged fraud, arising from the cancellation of penalty points.

That incident was not included in the report, compiled by Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony, because a separate criminal investigation was already under way.

INTEGRITY

A second prior investigation into penalty points was subsumed into the O'Mahony inquiries.

Mr Callinan said he was satisfied that if the main investigation into the penalty points issue had been carried out independently by the Ombudsman there would not have been a different outcome.

He said the facts had been clearly set out by Mr O'Mahony, whose honesty and integrity were well known both within and beyond the boundaries of the State.

He said he had appointed Mr O'Mahony to head up the inquiry team because he was the force's most experienced investigator.

Mr Callinan pointed out that the whistleblowers did not have access to the level of information that was available to Mr O'Mahony and said he believed that if they had, they would have reached a different conclusion.

He said the fraud file was now being studied by the DPP, who would determine if criminal charges should be brought against a rank and file garda, who was the subject of the complaint lodged by one of the whistleblowers last August.

Irish Independent

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