False breath tests by gardaí and water refunds on Cabinet agenda

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will brief colleagues on two inquiries into Garda

 Charlie Flanagan. he will also outline the contents of a report by the Policing Authority into the slow pace of reform in the Garda Síochána. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Charlie Flanagan. he will also outline the contents of a report by the Policing Authority into the slow pace of reform in the Garda Síochána. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The Cabinet will hold its first meeting of the new Dáil term on Wednesday, with the refund of water charges and a key report on the exaggeration of breath tests by gardaí on the agenda.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will brief his colleagues on the content of two Garda inquiries into the exaggeration of 1.5 million breath tests over seven years and the wrongful conviction of 14,500 people for motoring offences.

The Irish Times has learned that the report finds gardaí made the figures up in a significant number of cases, and provided no explanation for the falsification of the figures.

The inquiries propose disciplinary action should be taken against individual gardaí but does not specific how many will face sanction.

It makes no direct criticism of senior management within the force, but will propose new systems to collate the figures.

Mr Flanagan will also outline the contents of a report by the Policing Authority into the slow pace of reform in the Garda Síochána.

The Irish Times understands that the Policing Authority strongly criticises the Garda for its reluctance to reform.

The reports will be published on Wednesday afternoon, and Mr Flanagan is expected to issue a detailed statement in the aftermath.

Cheques

On the issue of water refunds, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy will confirm cheques will be sent to individual householders by post by the end of the year.

Once the legislation allowing for the refunds has passed, an information campaign will be launched advising homeowners of the process.

Those who have moved home since they paid the monies will be asked to contact Irish Water and the cheque will be issued to their current address. However, it is unlikely these individuals will be repaid by the end of the year, and may take a longer period to refund.

Government sources said the aim was to ensure the money was refunded as soon as possible, and the issue of water charges was no longer a political problem.

Legislation to implement the other recommendations of the Oireachtas water committee, including penalties for excessive usage, will be discussed at Cabinet within weeks. This is likely to be a bigger political difficulty for the Government and will require support from Fianna Fáil.

Local authorities

Mr Murphy is also likely to brief Ministers on forthcoming developments on housing ahead of a meeting with the heads of local authorities on Friday.

A package of housing measures, including plans to accelerate the construction of public housing, is expected in the coming weeks.

Government insiders now say that they must respond quickly to rising public concern about the housing crisis, and cannot wait until the budget in mid-October. A roll-out of plans is expected to begin shortly.

Ministers will also be briefed on the recent flooding in Co Donegal, and the efforts to assist victims of the disaster.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will update the Cabinet on the capital plan, which is expected to be announced within weeks.