Thursday 23 January 2020

Failure to inform Garda auditors about breath test issues 'incredible'

Stock picture
Stock picture
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Senior Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member Alan Kelly has said it is "unbelievable" that Garda management did not tell internal auditors about issues with breath tests and 14,500 traffic convictions relating to penalty points.

The Garda Audit Committee has said it is "very concerned" that it was "totally unaware" of both issues, before they were publicly revealed by the force in March.

There is an internal Garda probe into how almost a million bogus breath tests came to be recorded over a number of years, as well as how more than 14,500 other motorists ended up being wrongly convicted of traffic offences. Labour TD Mr Kelly described the failure to tell the auditors about the issues as "incredible stuff" and "unbelievable".

"Obviously the relationship between the internal audit function and senior management in An Garda Síochána isn't functioning," he added.

The audit committee's report states that Garda management became aware of the legal problems involving fixed charged penalties during 2016.

However, it only became aware of the issue after a high-profile media announcement in March this year.

Alan Kelly says the matter will be examined in the autumn. Photo: Tom Burke
Alan Kelly says the matter will be examined in the autumn. Photo: Tom Burke

Mr Kelly also asked: "How can they [the auditors] actually assess risk and costs to the taxpayer if they are not provided with information?"

He told RTÉ Radio the PAC would have to examine the matter in the autumn.

The Garda Audit Commitee's 2016 report states it has "concerns regarding data quality across the force", given the issues relating to the recording of breath tests. In relation to the penalty points issues, the report said the committee was in the "unusual position" of "not being able to offer any view concerning the cost implications of these events" or the adequacy of the remedies that were being implemented.

A Garda spokesman said yesterday: "An Garda Síochána highly values the role of the independent Garda Internal Audit Committee and will seek to ensure it is kept fully informed of any issues relevant to its work."

Irish Independent

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