Whistleblower says report a ‘damning indictment’
John Wilson says Shatter and Callinan should consider positions
John Wilson said yesterday’s report into fixed charge processing was a ‘damning indictment’ of the management of the system. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The report of the Garda Inspectorate into the penalty points system has vindicated the actions of whistleblowers within the force, John Wilson has said.
Mr Wilson, along with Sergeant Maurice McCabe, highlighted garda misconduct around the cancelling of penalty points.
He said the report published yesterday was a “damning indictment” of the management of the fixed charge notice system.
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The Inspectorate found “consistent and widespread breaches of the points policy”.
Reacting to the report’s findings this morning, Mr Wilson criticised Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter over their handling of the controversy and said they should both consider their positions.
He said the two men had a very close professional relationship and appeared to be the two people in Ireland who did not believe the whistleblowers had been vindicated. They are living in an “imaginary world”, he claimed.
Mr Wilson, a former garda, also criticised Mr Callinan for his performance at the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee earlier this year.
He said it appeared the Commissioner could “barely disguise his anger” at the conduct of the two whistleblowers when he described their actions as “disgusting”.
Mr Callinan last night issued a statement in which he said his use of the word “disgusting” at the hearing was “not in reference to the character of either Sgt McCabe or former garda Wilson, but the manner in which personal and sensitive data was inappropriately appearing in the public domain without regard to due process and fair procedures.”
According to Mr Wilson this statement “made things worse” and he defended the decision to highlight issues around the terminations of fixed charge notices.
He said Mr Callinan was essentially saying the two men broke the law through their actions.
“We acted lawfully at all times,” he said. The Garda Síochána Act “legally entitles members of An Garda Síochána to approach members of the Oireachtas with allegations of malpractice within the force”.
Mr Shatter last night welcomed the comprehensive approach taken by the Inspectorate in identifying deficiencies in the points system.
However, he declined to apologise to the Garda whistleblowers whose claims triggered the investigation.
Mr Shatter said while the whistleblowers “got a number of things correct” some of their claims had not been established.
Looking to the Garda Ombudsman Commission investigation into the penalty points controversy, Mr Wilson said it was unlikely to identify all gardaí who wrongfully terminated points.
Part of the reason for this is that the commission does not have the resources to investigate the thousands of decisions to cancel points, Mr Wilson said.
In the absence of a thorough investigation Mr Wilson said he did not want to see a small number of gardaí “scapegoated”.
Mr Wilson said his working life had been frustrated since he started making allegations about alleged garda misconduct. Before he stepped down for the force he was refused access to the Pulse computer system and, on one occasion, was pulled over while driving home and subjected to a search by another garda.
He said his decision to become a whistleblower was a matter of “right and wrong” for him.
Certain people in this country find themselves at an unfairly advantageous position because of their friendships with members of the gardaí, he said, adding that Ireland has always been a country of “stroke pullers”.
He said he would encourage other members of the force to come forward when they see wrongdoing but added that as long as Mr Callinan remains commissioner, such instances of whistle-blowing will remain very rare.