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Fianna Fáil says investigating 1.4m fake breath tests would be inconclusive and expensive

Jim O’Callaghan said investigating such a large number of cases would “cost a huge amount of money”.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

FIANNA FÁIL’S JUSTICE spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan has said investigating all 1.4 million fake breath tests recorded by An Garda Síochána would be impractical and inconclusive.

Speaking on Morning Ireland earlier, O’Callaghan said investigating such a large number of cases would be “inconclusive, time-costly and will cost a huge amount of money”.

“What we do know from the report of Assistant Commissioner [Michael] O’Sullivan, and what we do know from the admission from the [Garda Representative Association] last week, is that there was institutional falsification of information going on within An Garda Síochána. That is an extremely serious finding.

“I would be in favour of a disciplinary process if it’s going to be feasible, but people have to understand what’ll be involved in that.

“Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan in his report stated that there were 523,000 roadside checkpoint incidents between 2009 and 2017. That is an enormous number. For his report , which took him six months, he could only look at 2,000 of them and he did that based on a sampling exercise.

“Sampling is perfectly acceptable if you’re trying to find out what happened. But when it comes to disciplining individuals, you can’t have sampling, we’re going to have to look at each one of the 523,000,” he said.

O’Callaghan, who made similar comments in the Sunday Times yesterday, questioned how long this process would take, adding it would likely cost millions.

Yesterday, a woman told RTÉ’s This Week she witnessed a garda using a breathalyser machine on himself. O’Callagan said that if individuals involved in this and any other reported cases are found to have engaged in wrongdoing they should be disciplined.

Appeal for information

Yesterday An Garda Síochána issued an appeal for information in relation to the false breath tests. The organisation encouraged any gardaí with relevant information to submit it to O’Sullivan and the Policing Authority.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire criticised O’Callaghan’s comments.

“The gardaí over the weekend appealed for information to be brought to themselves or the Policing Authority, with one story being reported on a garda sitting at a desk blowing into breath tests to make up the figures.

“Deputy O’Callaghan appeared to state that pursuing this further would be futile, and that there should not be individual accountability.

“I absolutely reject that – in particular the idea that we can tolerate any longer the culture of impunity and of lack of accountability in the force. I believe that where there is evidence of wrongdoing then those people need to be held to account. That includes senior garda management,” Ó Laoghaire said.

Read: Breath test scandal: Rank-and-file gardaí refuse to be ‘scapegoated for ill-conceived policies’

Poll: Would taking disciplinary action against gardaí over fake breath tests be ‘a waste of time’?

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