Inability of top gardaí to answer questions ‘extraordinary’ - FF

Party asks Policing Authority to take tough line with senior Garda management

Fianna Fáil is deeply dissatisfied with Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan and her senior team, branding their inability to answer questions "extraordinary" and showing "little evidence of real reform or cultural change".

The party has written to Policing Authority chairwoman Josephine Feehily urging her to take a tough line with Ms O'Sullivan and other senior gardaí.

Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan suggested to Ms Feehily the Garda may have had no intention of disclosing the inflated breath-test data or the results of their audit into the data.

He suggested Ms Feehily and her colleagues "should ascertain" whether the Garda was forced into publicly disclosing the crises because they were revealed in a story in The Irish Times on February 20th. His concerns also relate to the way Ms O'Sullivan has conducted herself since the crises started.



While the Garda had apologised for the “grave mistakes and wrongdoing” they were unable to specify “what the wrongdoing was for which they were apologising,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

“This is extraordinary given the serious impact these issues are having on public confidence in the force,” he added.

"The Policing Authority was set up to allow for genuine reform to take place in the Garda Síochána. Unfortunately, recent events and the way they have been handled show little evidence of real reform or cultural change."

Mr O'Callaghan said he had tried to determine at the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Wednesday why the Garda waited, from April 2014 until February 2017, to approach the Medical Bureau of Road Safety for the accurate set of data on breath tests.

And while he believed the Garda was finally spurred into making the request after the scandal was exposed in the media, he was not given the exact dates and has urged the Policing Authority to get that information.

The date is crucial because if it transpires the information was sought only after the problems with the data emerged publicly, the commissioner would be open to the charge she had concealed the problems and had gone public only after being forced to do so.

A Garda spokesman said additional information on wrongful fixed-charge notice prosecutions and inflated breath-test figures requested by the authority was provided on Friday evening.

The authority said a package had arrived at its headquarters at 6.30pm.

It had requested that, by last night, An Garda Síochána provide further information on a range of matters. “This includes a copy of all existing reports, including audits or examinations on both matters,” an earlier statement said.

Investigation requested

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald yesterday wrote to the authority formally asking it to undertake an investigation into the million breath tests that never happened.

Ms Fitzgerald also asked the authority to investigate how 146,000 motorists were wrongly summoned to court for road-traffic infringements after they had already paid fixed-charge notices. Some 14,700 people were convicted and sanctions imposed.

Ms Fitzgerald told Ms Feehily she may need extra resources to carry out her work and said additional money would be made available by the Government to hire “external professional experts”.

Sources said a review of all data held by the Garda, sought by Ministers at this week’s Cabinet meeting, is still expected and will probably form part of the “root-and-branch” review of the force promised by the Government.

Meanwhile, the Fennelly commission delivered its final report to the Department of the Taoiseach yesterday evening. The commission examined the taping of phone calls at Garda stations over a 30-year period. An interim report dealt with the retirement of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan, and was released in 2015. The final report is expected to be published next week.