Varadkar wants speed camera claims investigated

Whistleblower claims faulty equipment means some drivers wrongfully fined

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has called for a full investigation of road speed cameras. Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has called for a full investigation of road speed cameras. Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 16:31

Allegations that faulty equipment used by privately operated speed cameras are causing drivers to be wrongly fined should be investigated, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said.

The claims were made in an RTÉ Prime Time programme broadcast on Tuesday.

Speaking at a transport conference in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said: “I think it is very important that the allegations are fully investigated.”

“The Go Safe cameras are operated under a contract from the gardaí so it is not under my direct remit, but I understand that Minister Shatter has asked for a report on it”.

Mr Shatter has also requested further information on court proceedings from the gardaí.

Speaking on Prime Time last night, a whistleblower who used to work with the GoSafe company revealed a number of motorists were wrongly fined even after he warned management that he was unable to set up his equipment properly to take a precise reading.

The former Go Safe employee said he only became aware the speed violations had been processed when he was called to appear as a witness in a case against one of the motorists detected by the faulty equipment.

The whistleblower asked all drivers affected be contacted and offered redress, but was told that only a small number of fixed charge notices had actually been issued.

According to the Prime Time report, GoSafe said it was unable to comment on the issue under the terms of its contract, and referred all queries to the gardaí.

Gardaí confirmed over 30 motorists did not receive fixed charge notices, adding that this could have happened for a variety of reasons including registration plates that weren’t readable or vehicles registered in another jurisdiction.

The Garda statement added GoSafe did not refund fines or erase points from the drivers that were fined.

The GoSafe consortium, led by Listowel-based businessman Xavier McAulliffe, secured a five-year contact to run the nationwide speed detection system in 2009.

The company began operations in November 2010 and was initially contracted to provide 6,000 enforcement hours a month.

This number increased to 6,725 hours last year. The contract costs the state around €1.4 million a month.

Earlier this month District Court Judge Patrick Durcan criticised the handling of Go Safe prosecutions in his court, calling them “a complete waste of public money”.

“I am reaching the point where I believe I should refuse to entertain these matters because of the time wasted in court.

This country can’t afford it,” Judge Durcan told Kilrush District Court.

A spokeswoman for the Road Safety Authority refused to comment on the issue, saying it would be “inappropriate” to comment on Garda operational matters.