Tuesday 20 March 2018

Varadkar and Martin want GRA evidence on breath test claims


The GRA’s spokesman John O’Keeffe
The GRA’s spokesman John O’Keeffe

Niall O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have piled pressure on the Garda Representative Association (GRA) to provide concrete evidence to support its claims members were pressurised by their senior colleagues to falsify breath test figures.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has also written to GRA bosses seeking answers, while Garda management said any member with evidence of duress being applied should come forward.

The row has plunged the GRA into a full-blown crisis with members accusing the executive's officer board of embarking on a 'solo run'.

GRA sources say they were not consulted about the decision to brief the national broadcaster RTÉ that rank-and-file members "elevated" breath test figures after coming under pressure from middle-to-senior ranking gardaí.

The Irish Independent can reveal members have now written to the GRA officer board seeking a copy of minutes of a meeting of the Central Executive Council, which took place in Phibsboro last Thursday.

Hours after the meeting concluded, GRA spokesman John O'Keeffe told RTÉ's crime correspondent Paul Reynolds rank-and-file members were put under duress to "elevate" the figures and middle-to-senior ranking Garda officers are responsible for the falsification of 1.5 million breath tests. But a number of GRA sources who attended the meeting said such a stance was not agreed.

"I was sitting at that very table and I can tell you, the course of action we took in relation to the interview with Paul Reynolds was not agreed," one source said.

However, as revealed by the Irish Independent on Saturday, GRA general secretary Pat Ennis has hit back at members, claiming they must adhere to a "position of solidarity".

The report into the scandal, led by Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan, discovered evidence of almost 1.5 million breath tests that were not carried out.

The issue dominated political debate yesterday. The Taoiseach called on the GRA to back up the claims with evidence. "An allegation has been made by the GRA against other gardaí and I think any allegations that are made should always be backed up with evidence," he said.

Mr Martin said: "An important dimension of accountability is learning lessons from what transpired and ensuring it never happens again."

Irish Independent

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