PAC may meet new penalty points whistleblower next week

Members will ask the Garda whistleblower to seek legal advice before opting to attend

The PAC will examine the issue of penalty points

The PAC will examine the issue of penalty points

Thu, Jan 23, 2014, 08:51

The Dáil’s spending watchdog will invite a new whistleblower who alleges discrepancies in the operation of the Garda penalty points system to attend a meeting with the committee next week.

However, at a closed meeting of the Public Accounts Committee last night, its members decided that it would ask the Garda whistleblower to seek legal advice before opting to attend a private meeting with the PAC or one that is held in public session.

Sources said last night that the PAC, chaired by John McGuinness, also needed time to examine the dossier of allegations made by the whistleblower, to ascertain whether it contains information similar to that given by other whistleblowers, including retired garda John Wilson, or whether it discloses new cases where discretion was exercised by senior gardaí, allegedly without sufficient basis.

In the meantime, the PAC will examine the issue of penalty points and the operation of the fixed charge notice system when Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan attends its hearing today.

Garda discretion
Mr McGuinness said yesterday: “Discretion plays an important role in how a garda discharges their functions when determining if someone will be subject to a penalty but how that discretion can be applied in a consistent and fair way is a key question in any discussion surrounding the penalty points system.

“The C&AG found evidence that not only are cases not being terminated consistently but that a significant number of cases reviewed appeared to have been terminated in circumstances outside of the stated policy.

“Overall, the C&AG found the rate of terminations for 2011 and 2012 to be 5 per cent and that up to one in five traffic offenders avoid penalties. The C&AG also found that absent and inadequate records give rise to concerns that many cases have been terminated without due cause. These were clearly serious and worrying findings, he said.

The commissioner has already indicated in correspondence with the committee that he is not prepared to discuss individual instances.

The latest raft of allegations include claims that a well- known sports personality benefited from discretion on seven occasions.