Wednesday 21 February 2018

Fiasco raises questions over basic competence of Garda top brass

RSA: latest scandal damages public faith in the Garda force. Photo: Collins
RSA: latest scandal damages public faith in the Garda force. Photo: Collins
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

In April 2016, a motorist appeared in court accused of failing to hold a valid NCT certificate for their vehicle. It subsequently transpired they had already paid a fine arising from the offence, and had three penalty points imposed on their licence.

What has emerged is that the driver should never have received a court summons. The offence should have been dealt with through the fixed-charge notice (FCN) system, where after being stopped by a garda and found to have committed an offence, a letter would follow to their home address. The fine - in this case €60 - could be paid by post, over the phone or through the post office network, and the penalty points automatically imposed on their licence.

The case sparked a review of prosecutions mounted by gardaí in relation to all penalty point offences. It has now emerged that in almost 14,700 cases, an FCN was never issued, and instead people were incorrectly ordered to appear in court.

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