Penalty point cancellations ‘horrifying’ and ‘depressing’, says Gay Byrne

Traffic gardaí being undermined by senior officers, road safety chairman says

Gay Byrne:  “Many young gardaí would feel disillusioned with the whole bloody system.” Photograph: Alan Betson.

Gay Byrne: “Many young gardaí would feel disillusioned with the whole bloody system.” Photograph: Alan Betson.

 

The alleged widespread and systematic quashing of penalty points by An Garda S

íochána must be openly investigated, the chairman of the Road Safety Authority has said.

Gay Byrne said the extent of the apparent cancellation of penalty points was “horrifying” and also described as “most depressing” the fact that the work of young gardaí in issuing penalty points was apparently being “undermined . . . by senior officers”.

Whistleblowers

“Many young gardaí would feel disillusioned with the whole bloody system,” he said.

Mr Byrne was speaking as two whistleblowers, retired garda John Wilson and serving Sergeant Maurice McCabe, are invited to testify at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the issue.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, appearing before PAC last week, described the actions of the two whistleblowers as “quite disgusting”.

Mr Byrne said he and former chief executive of the RSA Noel Brett had been aware of the allegations of widespread quashing of penalty points since October 2012 and had sent the information they had on the issue to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

“We have all known there has been cancelling of penalty points going on for the past 20 years, though we always assumed you had to have someone in the guards, a brother or a cousin or someone. What is horrifying to learn is the sheer extent of it. No one realised quite the extent of it.”

It has emerged that about 10,000 cancellations of penalty point notices occurred per year in recent years.

‘Work being undermined’

“Quite apart from the lost money to the State I think the most depressing aspect of it is the fact that it is the young garda who is out late at night in the rain and the hail and the snow, doing their job, issuing these notices to make the roads safer, and their work is being undermined, not by gangsters and hoodlums, but by their own senior officers.

The issue must now be openly investigated, he said. “It should be brought out into the open. Whether the Public Accounts Committee is the right place to do it I don’t know. I think if there can be safeguards it should be done there, but it should now all be brought out into the open.”