Nationwide 'termination' of penalty points revealed
Gardaí behind the termination of penalty points for tens of thousands of motorists, including some high-profile people, have left a comprehensive trail of evidence for investigation.
An interim report on the practice of gardaí terminating points, in many cases for no stated reason, was sent from Garda headquarters to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter last night.
Documents seen by The Irish Times show the details of the persons whose points were terminated, the reasons sometimes given for the termination, and in many cases Garda personnel numbers that appear to identify those who terminated the points.
Among those who have had their points terminated are two members of the judiciary.
The matter came to light when a garda and a sergeant approached the Department of Transport, the Department of Justice and the Road Safety Authority acting as whistleblowers.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan appointed Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney to investigate. It is the interim report arising from that probe that was sent to Mr Shatter last night.
While the scale of the practice is not clear, some sources have said the matter of gardaí arranging the termination of points from licences when asked had “grown as a culture down the years”.
The records seen by The Irish Time indicate the practice is nationwide, has been ongoing for years and involves a number of gardaí rather than a handful.
For example, in the four years to the end of last year, there were 6,846 terminations for speeding in a 60km/h zone and 4,129 terminations for speeding in a 50km/h zone.
Penalty points were introduced 10 years ago and now cover 48 offences. The records being investigated show that for many single offences under the penalty points system, 500-1,000 terminations are carried out a year.
There are some legitimate reasons why points incurred could be terminated, such as speeding during a genuine emergency.
A high-profile GAA figure has had points terminated four times, three times this year, including two offences recorded in a three-day period.
A prominent figure from RTÉ has also had points terminated, as has a journalist who has been well-known for several decades.
A former Fine Gael councillor has also had points terminated, as has a man who has played rugby for Ireland. The RTÉ figure and the man who has played rugby for Ireland were both recorded doing 150km/h in a 120km/h.
Wexford TD Mick Wallace raised the issue in the Dail on Tuesday. He said: “Gardai have approached me, as a member of the Oireachtas, to express their great concern that honest gardai are being undermined by this activity. It is corruption and should be investigated”.
On point: speeding judge
A judge at the centre of the controversy around the termination of penalty points had points terminated three times. Records seen by The Irish Times show the judge’s car was recorded speeding two days in succession in April 2010 and in May 2012.
Once the judge’s car was recorded driving at twice the legal speed limit – 101km/h in a 50km/h zone. The next day the car was detected travelling at 90km/h in the same location.
On another occasion the car was detected doing 74km/h in a 60km/h zone.
The circumstances surrounding the termination of points are being investigated. No evidence has emerged to suggest the judge was in any way involved in the process.
In the records for two of the offences, the comment section to explain why the offence has been terminated has been left blank. In the third incident, the words “discretionary other” have been entered on the computerised records.