Wednesday 16 October 2019

Independents lose further credibility on points affair

Whatever else his critics will frequently say about the Minister for Justice, a lack of integrity isn't an accusation directed at Alan Shatter. In his dealings with An Garda Siochana and the judiciary, he has shown he is not afraid to tread on sensitive toes.

When the minister says he believes the penalty points report disproves allegations about criminality, perversion of the course of justice and the deaths of individuals on our roads because tickets hadn't been properly processed, it carries some weight.

On foot of the report, three out of 113 garda officers who cancelled penalty points are facing disciplinary proceedings.

The anonymous whistleblower, who began the process, clearly did have reason to highlight concerns about the operation of the penalty points system.

However, some of the allegations of abuse made by the author of documents on the system, and repeated by elected representatives, have proven unfounded, according to the investigation by Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Mahony.

The report threw up a panoply of legitimate reasons for the cancellation of penalty points: where the offender was a juvenile, where the tax and insurance disks were simply not displayed properly, where the car had changed owners but the papers weren't processed in time or where the driver was deceased.

After deciding to use parliamentary privilege to name high-profile individuals who had penalty points quashed, some of the cadre of independent TDs decided the report was a whitewash before even viewing its contents.

Mick Wallace is evidently devoid of a sense of self-awareness when he thinks it is plausible for him to criticise abuse of a system so soon after he defrauded the tax authorities.

Not content with pre-empting the investigation itself, they then decided to pre-empt the findings by getting their unsubstantiated theories in first. Yet the Independents were silent on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan's failure to cooperate with a separate garda investigation into the wiping of his penalty points.

Rather than facing up to his responsibilities, Mr Flanagan merely chose to try to drag other TDs and senators into the affair.

Yet he has the neck to call for a serious and independent investigation.

The lack of credibility of these Independents means their dismissal of this report will rightly be ignored.

Irish Independent

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