TDs criticise penalty point investigations

Public cannot feel 100% sure in Garda confidentiality, says Flanagan

TDs  Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Mick Wallace, Clare Daly and Joan Collins are calling for an independent report into the cancellation of penalty points by gardaí. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

TDs Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Mick Wallace, Clare Daly and Joan Collins are calling for an independent report into the cancellation of penalty points by gardaí. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

 

Four TDs are set to make detailed submissions to the justice committee to voice their disapproval of two reports into the cancellation of penalty points which failed to find evidence of widespread corruption involving point quashing.

TDs Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Joan Collins are calling for an independent report into the cancellation of penalty points by gardaí, as previous reports had involvement by assistant Garda commissioner John O’Mahoney and the Garda Professional Standards Unit (GPSU).

The group said that having senior Gardaí investigate their colleagues led to the failure of allowing whistleblowers the opportunity to put forward their case. They added that Garda discretion is necessary in certain circumstances, but discretion in relation to FCN [Fixed Charge Notice] cancellations must be made lawful and subject to transparency, a formal application system, monitoring, auditing and appeal.

At a press conference today Mr Wallace said Minister for Justice Alan Shatter does not seem interested in investigating the legality of Garda discretion when dealing with fines.

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“We will be introducing our private members bill in the Dáil in July, relating to the structure of policing in Ireland and addressing the weaknesses we see in the powers of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and to address what professor Dermot Walsh has referred to as ‘the unhealthy and incestuous relationship that exists between the Irish Government and the management of An Garda Síochána,’” he said.

“It is clear that while policy, process and practice of An Garda Síochána in the area of FCN cancellations is, by their own admission and according to their own internal review and GPSU report, non-compliant, dysfunctional and flawed at every possible level.”

Mr Flanagan said that if Mr Shatter wants to apologise to someone, he could apologise to the whistleblowers he failed to protect.

“Now, the general public, for as long as the current Minister for Justice is there and the current Garda Commissioner is there, the public cannot feel 100 per cent sure of the confidentiality of the information that they give the Gardaí. It has become quite clear now, that when it suits, information is leaked,” he said.

During the press conference, Mr Wallace was questioned in relation to a report indicating he was arrested in 2000 for directing traffic in Dublin City. Mr Wallace claims he was falsely arrested and no discretion was offered, but that legal proceedings are underway.