Callinan strongly criticised in penalty points report

Draft report says former commissioner put force ahead of whistlebloweres

Former garda commissioner Martin Callinan. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Former garda commissioner Martin Callinan. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan is strongly criticised for his handling of the penalty points affair and whistleblowers in a draft report from the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

It also calls for greater protection for whistleblowers.

The committee says Mr Callinan put the protection of the force ahead of complaints from the whistleblowers. It says he “lost control” of the issue when it entered the public domain.

Mr Callinan retired from duty in March, citing personal reasons. His retirement came shortly after Taoiseach Enda Kenny dispatched then-Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell to his home to discuss the matter.

The draft PAC report, to be discussed by TDs today, also finds that the “leakage” in the penalty points system – with one fifth of fines not paid – costs the exchequer an estimated €6 million per year.

Whistleblower

“The evidence given to the committee, and especially the oral evidence of the Garda Commissioner, highlights the challenge posed to Garda systems, especially when information relating to the cancellation of fixed note charges entered the political system and was raised in Dáil Éireann,” it says.

“The Commissioner described the actions of the two whistle-blowers as disgusting and put a huge degree of emphasis on the need to maintain discipline within the force.

“It appears that the desire to protect the organisation was placed ahead of ensuring that the complaints from the whistle-blower were followed up on and that the Garda Commissioner lost control of the process once the issue appeared in the public domain.”

Sgt McCabe’s evidence “presented a challenge to the Garda authorities”, it says, adding that Mr Callinan’s testimony “indicated that malpractice by Garda members tolerated also showed a degree of resentment of the actions of the whistle-blower”.

The draft report says a culture change is needed to help restore public confidence in the Garda and to restore morale within the force.

The draft report also cites evidence given by Sgt McCabe that “his treatment for being a whistle-blower had ‘destroyed me, my career and my family’”.