Gsoc to outsource parts of investigation for penalty points inquiry

Body issues tender seeking to recruit investigators for inquiry ordered by Alan Shatter

Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

The Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission is for the first time seeking to outsource some of its investigations into members of the force.

The Garda complaints body has issued a tender seeking to recruit up to eight investigators for a public interest inquiry into penalty points ordered by former minister for justice Alan Shatter in January, 2014.

Mr Shatter resigned from office four months later.

Since then a series of reports - by Gsoc, the Garda and Garda Inspectorate - have been published on the penalty points system and procedures for cancelling points overhauled with judicial oversight.

However, because the public interest inquiry was requested by a minister, Gsoc is compelled by law to persist.

Mr Shatter ordered an examination of penalty points cancelled between 2009 and 2012 to determine if there was evidence of criminal offences or breaches of discipline.

Until now, only the specific cases highlighted by Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe have been examined in that way.

Allegations

Current Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has requested that the period from June to September 2014 also be examined.

She made the request after allegations emerged that despite the procedures for cancelling points being changed and tightened considerably, the system was still being abused.

A spokeswoman for Gsoc said the first phase of the investigation had been completed.

“This included considerable analytical work on a total dataset of 1.6 million notices issued as well as interviews and a review of materials from previous related investigations. It provided a road-map for the next phase of the investigation.”

Last July Gsoc tendered for a team of investigators but none of the applications met its criteria and now the process has begun again.

The tender says successful applicants must have assembled a team of experience investigators. However, it must be made up of people who have never been Garda members and who have never had penalty points cancelled. Team members are also required to be experience report authors and be familiar with the relevant legislation.