Garda ombudsman expects ‘full and immediate co-operation’

Commissioner says Garda Síochána remains committed to accountability

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he had been in dialogue with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and looked forward “to co-operating fully with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in its examination” of the points affair.  Photograph: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he had been in dialogue with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and looked forward “to co-operating fully with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in its examination” of the points affair. Photograph: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Tue, Jan 28, 2014, 01:05

The Garda Ombudsman Commission said it should be allowed scope to investigate the penalty points affair “unhindered”. For his part, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan pledged full co-operation with the new investigation.

Amid debate in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as to whether TDs should now stand aside from their own inquiry, the Garda ombudsman said it expects and will be demanding “full and immediate co-operation” from all parties.

“The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission are awaiting formal referral from the Minister,” the body said.

“On the presumption that we receive the referral shortly, we will commence what will be a very wide-ranging investigation. We welcome very much the Minister’s call for parties to allow us to proceed with our work unhindered.”

In his own statement, Mr Callinan said he had been in dialogue with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and looked forward “to co-operating fully with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in its examination” of the points affair.

“It is critical that the Fixed Charge Penalty Notice System retains the support of the public so that it continues to play an important role in improving road safety,” he said.

“As I told the Public Accounts Committee, An Garda Síochána is committed to engaging with all its employees and any member of An Garda Síochána who wishes to report wrongdoing within the organisation will be fully supported and afforded every protection.

“In that regard, I also look forward to the inclusion of An Garda Síochána under the Protected Disclosures Bill 2013. I want to once again state that An Garda Síochána remains as committed as ever to full accountability to the Oireachtas and the citizens of this country.”

The PAC will review the situation at a private meeting. The committee had asked a serving Garda sergeant, Maurice McCabe, to take legal advice before saying whether he would give evidence at a hearing on Thursday.

Before Mr Shatter’s intervention, PAC chairman John McGuinness had said the only question to be settled if Sgt McCabe was willing to appear was whether the committee would sit in private or public session.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins welcomed the decision to call in the ombudsman, saying it was crucial that issues brought to the PAC’s attention were fully investigated.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Padraig Mac Lochlainn welcomed the move but questioned why it has taken so long.