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Thursday 14 December 2017

GRA bosses come under fire over breath-test saga

'The report into the scandal, led by Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan, discovered evidence of almost 1.5 million breath tests which were not carried out' (stock photo)
'The report into the scandal, led by Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan, discovered evidence of almost 1.5 million breath tests which were not carried out' (stock photo)
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The head of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has come under fire over claims rank-and-file members were pressurised to inflate breath test figures.

At a testy meeting of the GRA Central Executive Council (CEC), members demanded to know who briefed the association's spokesperson John O'Keeffe to make such a claim.

Mr O'Keeffe told RTÉ's crime correspondent Paul Reynolds last month that gardaí were put under duress to "inflate" such statistics. Many gardaí say the claim is not true.

GRA Secretary General Pat Ennis was asked yesterday to explain the position expressed via RTÉ amid claims that it was not the executive's agreed stance.

Mr Ennis said there were two people involved in briefing Mr O'Keeffe and that at this stage he did not wish to identify them. The meeting also heard how the GRA intends to "pursue" RTÉ over the interview and how it was conducted.

RTÉ sources have completely rejected the suggestion that Mr Reynolds conducted the interview in an unprofessional manner. Mr O'Keeffe, the GRA spokesman, did not respond last night. The report into the scandal, led by Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan, discovered evidence of almost 1.5 million breath tests which were not carried out.

Read more: GRA wants names of officers who briefed on breath tests

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has written to GRA bosses seeking answers in relation to the breath tests claims, while Garda Management said any member with evidence of duress being applied should come forward.

The row has plunged the GRA into a crisis with members accusing the executive's officer board of embarking on a solo run. But GRA figures say the claim in relation to the breath tests and the criticism of Mr Reynolds has damaged the organisation's reputation.

Irish Independent

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