Thursday 18 July 2019

O'Sullivan to be tackled by Garda supervisors over breath test remarks

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan Photo: Arthur Carron
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan Photo: Arthur Carron
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Garda supervisors are to challenge Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan over her remarks that the creation of almost one million bogus breath tests was due to incompetence at best and deception at worst.

Ms O'Sullivan made the comments while addressing an Oireachtas justice committee meeting last month, when she said that dishonesty may also have been to blame for inputting false breath test figures into the Garda Pulse computer system.

Those remarks will be tackled directly by the president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Antoinette Cunningham, when she delivers her address to its annual conference, which gets under way in Killarney this evening.

Ms Cunningham told the Irish Independent last night that delegates were looking forward to the Commissioner speaking at the conference, as it had been one of the most difficult years for the force in recent times and they had only two opportunities to meet with Ms O'Sullivan in the past year.

"So having her at our conference is very important to us, and we will also be responding to her directly following her recent appearance at the Oireachtas committee on justice. Our association received quite a number of calls, emails and texts from our members following her comments," Ms Cunningham said.

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The two women are due to speak at the conference tomorrow afternoon.

Ms Cunningham has already said her association did not know how the figures had been exaggerated, but apologised to those who had been fundamentally wronged.

However, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has had to abandon her plans to address the conference.

This is because of Dáil motions attacking the Commissioner and senior Garda management this week.

The Tánaiste was initially scheduled to speak in Killarney tonight. It was then switched to Wednesday morning, but her visit has now been cancelled.

Ms Fitzgerald has to be in the Dáil to face a motion from Fianna Fáil calling on the Government to mandate the Policing Authority to determine whether Ms O'Sullivan should go or stay as Commissioner while criticising Garda management and calling for more powers for the authority.

She will also have to respond to a Sinn Féin motion, which will be turned into a vote of no confidence in the Commissioner.

The Commissioner is expected to take the opportunity to tell delegates of the steps being taken by Garda management to carry out nationwide inquiries to establish the background to the latest scandals to hit the force.

All ranks of the force will have a role to play in determining how and why the bogus breath tests were recorded, as well as focusing on the 14,700 people wrongly prosecuted in court for road traffic offences.

None of the 27 motions on the conference agenda deal with the association's strike action last year or the litany of scandals that have engulfed An Garda Síochána.

Irish Independent

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