Maurice McCabe receives RSA special recognition award

Retired Garda whistleblower ‘very brave’ in exposing abuses in penalty points system

Maurice McCabe with his Leading Light in Road Safety’ award. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Maurice McCabe with his Leading Light in Road Safety’ award. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Retired Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe has received a special recognition award from the Road Safety Authority (RSA), for his role in exposing the penalty points scandal.

Mr McCabe raised concerns about how gardaí were inappropriately wiping penalty points for motorists, which led to a major scandal in the force.

RSA chairwoman Liz O’Donnell said the retired garda had been nominated for a Leading Light in Road Safety award by members of the public, and the authority’s judging panel felt he was a “very deserved” winner.

“In terms of the penalty points issue he has ensured that drivers who break the law and who deserve the imposition of penalty points on their licence actually receive them,” Ms O’Donnell said.

Incidents in the past when gardaí inappropriately cancelled penalty points was an “abuse of power”, she said.

Mr McCabe “was very brave in calling out this bad behaviour amongst his colleagues”, she said.

The decision to raise the issues around penalty points, and other policing matters, had been a “very difficult course” for Mr McCabe, who had now been vindicated, she said.

He retired in late October, following the publication of the disclosures tribunal report on the investigation into an alleged smear campaign against him.

The report by Mr Justice Peter Charleton praised the whistleblower for his role in bringing to light failings in the force. It found former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan had run a “campaign of calumny” against Mr McCabe.

Leading lights

In total, 21 Leading Light in Road Safety awards were presented by the RSA to individuals and groups at a ceremony in Croke Park.

Speaking after receiving the award, Mr McCabe said he did not expect it, but was “extremely happy with it”.

Now over a month into his retirement, he said while there were still some outstanding issues, his life had been “easier” following the decision to leave the Garda.

Speaking about roads policing in the gardaí, he said the culture had improved. “It certainly has changed, I’m glad that I reported and raised it,” he said.

The overall winner of the RSA awards was Castletown Girls National School, in Dundalk, Co Louth, for a campaign students ran warning parents against checking their mobile phones while driving.

In the run-up to the Christmas holiday period, the RSA warned motorists and pedestrians to take precautions, as this time of the year routinely sees a spike in traffic accidents.

Ms O’Donnell said people should make sure they are under the legal limit to drive the morning after parties over the December period.

“There have been fatal crashes where alcohol was involved and it was between 7am and 11am in the morning. If the alcohol is still in your blood . . . you shouldn’t be driving,” she said.

While the overall number of deaths on the roads were down this year, the number of pedestrians killed in road accidents had increased from 27 to 38, she said.

People should ensure they wear high visibility gear when walking at night, such as coming home from the pub, Ms O’Donnell said.

“It looks as if over 50 per cent of those deaths were people over 55 years of age, so there’s a high level of older people not taking the same care as younger people in terms of wearing high vis,” she said.