Gilmore rejects call for independent inquiry into penalty points quashing

Tánaiste says committee now best place to deal with penalty points controversy

A  privately operated speed camera seen through the open door of the van. Photograph: Frank Miller /	THE IRISH TIMES

A privately operated speed camera seen through the open door of the van. Photograph: Frank Miller / THE IRISH TIMES

Thu, May 16, 2013, 14:53

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the penalty points controversy.

He told the Dáil the best place now to deal with the issue about claims that some gardaí had cancelled traffic offence penalty points for prominent personalities, was at the Oireachtas justice committee.

He said the Garda whistleblowers who originally raised the issue, could give their evidence in public there.

Mr Gilmore was responding to Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn who for the Government to allow an independent investigator to speak to the two garda whistleblowers who originally raised the issue and to look over the documentation. This way the public could be reassured that the concerns of the Ombudsman and the two gardaí would be addressed.

Mr Gilmore said the committee “is free to invite in the two garda officers concerned to hear them directly; is free to invite in whatever senior garda personnel they want to invite in to respond and explain what is happening”.

He said the new procedures to be implemented in the wake of the report into the allegations, had been referred to the Garda inspectorate, the report had been referred to the Oireachtas justice committee and the Comptroller & Auditor General was conducting an audit into the way the system operated.

The place to deal with the issue was at the Oireachtas committee where elected representatives of the people, to whom all public services were ultimately accountable, could deal with the matter in public.

Mr Gilmore said the Minister for Justice had asked the Garda Commissioner to investigate those allegations. The investigation had been carried out and a report produced and published.

He said there were questions to be answered where for example gardaí cancelled fixed penalty points outside their own area of jurisdiction or where there was no documentary evidence for cancelling the points.

Mr Gilmore said the Minister for Justice had made it very clear there could be no question of a doubt hanging over the fixed penalty point system.

Seven principles had been set out to guide the administration of the penalty points so there could be no “question about the integrity” of the system.

Mr Mac Lochlainn said Ireland’s economy had been brought to bankruptcy because there were too many people “who didn’t blow the whistle and shout stop”. The Donegal North East TD said the two gardaí who revealed the allegations had been isolated, brushed aside and marginalised.

He asked the Tánaiste what he would do to ensure future whistleblowers would not be treated the same way “in this shameful affair”.