Investigating all 1.45m fake breath tests not possible, says FF

Jim O’Callaghan says while specific allegations should be pursued not all fake tests can be

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan says it is not possible to investigate every instance of breath test falsification.

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan says it is not possible to investigate every instance of breath test falsification.

 

A full investigation of all the 1.45 million inflated breath tests is not possible and would be a waste of Garda resources, according to Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on justice Jim O’Callaghan.

He said while specific allegations against specific gardaí should be pursued, it was simply not possible to investigate every fake test as this would take “ten years”.

An internal Garda report found 1.45 million breath tests that never took place were uploaded on to Pulse over a seven-year period. The review found it was a widespread practice that occurred in every Garda district due to a combination of deliberate inflation and poor data management. A separate report by the Policing Authority into the same issue is to be completed within weeks.

Mr O’Callaghan said an investigation of all instances of falsification would take years, would be inconclusive and very time consuming. He also posed the question: “Who is going to do it?”

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last week he believed individual gardaí should face sanction if found to have engaged in the practice.

Over the weekend the Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, who carried out the Garda review into the fake tests, called for anyone with accusations to provide evidence.

On Monday Mr O’Callaghan said if there was evidence of self-breathalysing, as first reported in The Irish Times in February and again on RTÉ radio on Sunday, “then obviously it should be prosecuted”.

But he said, there was no evidence of any committing a criminal offence.

Mr O’Callaghan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland there were 523,000 roadside check point incidents between 2009 and 2017. “Sampling is perfectly acceptable if you’re trying to find out what happened, but when it comes to disciplining individuals you can’t have sampling, you’re going to have to look at each one of the 523,000 incidents.”

“We’re going to realise that there was institutional falsification.

“It is an extraordinary damning comment to make about the gardaí - to state that the institution falsified information that was going out to the public domain.”

“But if we’re going to start a ten year process of inquiring into half a million checkpoints that took place over eight years it’s not going to be productive, it’s not going to be conclusive.”

“Any people with evidence should come forward then we can have individual inquiry into guards who are self breathlysing, but if we’re going to have a general inquiry into half a million checkpoints it’s going to be inconclusive and costly because the guards can’t do that inquiry.”