Penalty points inquiry was no whitewash, says Shatter

Minister for Justice says allegations of criminality had been ‘comprehensively investigated’

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter: “I don’t think there has ever been such a comprehensive inquiry conducted so rapidly into such an issue.” Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter: “I don’t think there has ever been such a comprehensive inquiry conducted so rapidly into such an issue.” Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Thu, May 16, 2013, 01:00


Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has rejected the contention of some Opposition TDs that the inquiry into the quashing of penalty points by some gardaí had been a whitewash, saying the inquiry had been thorough and transparent.

“I don’t think there has ever been such a comprehensive inquiry conducted so rapidly into such an issue,” he said.

“Each and every allegation has been comprehensively investigated. There were three volumes of appendices which took me six hours to read.”

He said the names of people had been redacted in the appendices to the inquiry report which had not been publicly released on foot of legal advice.

He also said the Garda investigation into alleged cancellation of penalty points had disclosed there was no question of any corruption within the force or that any actions by gardaí had contributed to any deaths on Irish roads.

“I am pleased to note that the serious allegations of criminality, and perversion of the course of justice, and that individuals had died because penalty tickets were not properly processed, are untrue,” Mr Shatter said.

He accepted that the investigation had uncovered what he described as “administrative dysfunctions” with the system .

“I am concerned that it appears there have been cases where clearly laid out procedures for the cancellation of notices were not followed, for example where tickets were cancelled by some superintendents outside their Garda district areas. It also appears that, in some cases, detailed records were not maintained.

“I am conscious that, even where correct procedures were followed, the subjectivity of judgments made in accepting petitions for the cancellation of fixed charge notices inevitably leaves room for disagreement on individual decisions.”

Independent TD Clare Daly, who first raised the concerns of the two gardaí, questioned if an internal inquiry could ever be independent. She called for an independent inquiry to establish the full facts.

The call was echoed by Sinn Féin justice spokesman Padraig Mac Lochlainn. He also expressed serious concern that the manner in which the whistle-blower in this case was treated will deter others from coming forward with allegations of wrongdoing across the public and private sectors.

Transparency International Ireland, meanwhile, called on the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to undertake a review of internal whistleblower procedures in light of the affair.