Stay with us as we take you through Leaders’ Questions.
WITH YET ANOTHER Garda controversy dominating the headlines, Enda Kenny is likely to face tough questions this afternoon.
How did one million breath tests that never happened get recorded on the Garda Pulse system – that’s going to be one of the questions asked during today’s proceedings.
Micheál Martin is on his feet and he wants answers.
He says the public are genuinely shocked to hear the revelations about falsified reports relating to alcohol testing.
He says the answers given by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan are not good enough.
Enda Kenny says it is important the public have faith in the gardaí. “It is crucial the public can believe the statistics,” he says.
It is essential process of reform is implemented in the gardaí. He says important reforms have already been established, outlining more powers being given to GSOC and the Policing Authority.
He says the list on “unacceptable operations” continue to come out.
Kenny says the government beleives the level of public concern means it is time to conduct thorough, independent, external, root and branch review of the force.
“The government continues to have confidence in the Garda Commissioner,” concludes the Taoiseach.
Martin wants to know when the Taoiseach and government knew about these issues.
He also raises questions about how the Policing Authority were not told about the problem.
“I am very unhappy, very unhappy with this situation,” said the Taoiseach.
Mary Lou McDonald is now on her feet and says the Garda Commissioner is “brazen enough” to try and brave this out.
“The fish rots from the head… the game is up… this is an absolute mess,” she tells Enda Kenny.
It flies in the face of what people expect from their police service, says McDonald, who says the commissioner’s response has been “casual”.
“Everybody knows she has to go,” she adds.
“You need to show real leadership,” she tells Enda Kenny. The Taoiseach reiterates his position on the garda commissioner and says this is not about an individual but about “a structure”.
“We need to look beyond a personality here,” says Taoiseach, who adds it is about the force as a whole that needs to be looked at.
McDonald is not at all happy with his response.
“This is a disgraceful turn of events,” she says.
This is about Nóirín O’Sullivan failing in her position, she adds.
“Perhaps it is because you don’t have the bottle,” says McDonald, who harks back how the former Garda Commissioner left his position.
“We will find out what happened in the garda traffic management system,” says Kenny.
He reiterates a point that has been made a lot over the weekend, that there could be other issue within the garda yet to be revealed.
The issue of further surprises is something that Fianna Fáil do not want to hear. You can read more about that here:
Labour’s Brendan Howlin says he has worked with the Taoiseach closely over the years and he believes his response is unacceptable.
He raises the issue of the drivers who were wrongfully convicted in the courts and the damage that has been done to their lives. This is separate to the nearly one million breath tests that were recorded that never actually took place.
“Is no one to be accountable,” asks Howlin.
He also points out that it was the Independent Alliance that established a “root and branch” review of the gardaí after the McCabe controversy and says they are just jumping on their bandwagon.
Enda Kenny says every garda should have understood the law that was introduced in relation to fixed penalty points notices. He says it is not acceptable.
Enda Kenny says commissioner has been invited to attend the Oireachtas Justice Committee at 9am on Thursday and says she will also be meeting with the Police Authority soon.
From government perspective, he says they are taking a broader view and trying to put a system in place that will instil confidence in the force.
“We don’t need anyone to tell us that there were a million false tests recorded,” says Howlin. “They’re facts and someone needs to be held accountable NOW,” Howlin demands.
He calls for all the Garda Inspectorate report recommendations to be implemented.
The Taoiseach agrees that they are facts. “We need to know how that happened,” says Kenny.
The question that needs to be answered is how those figures were established, not internally, but externally, says Kenny.
Bríd Smith wants to talk about the Bus Eireann strike.
She is reading out the subvention that is given to the company and says Ireland gives a lot lower than other European companies.
You can read more about State support of transport here:
Enda Kenny defends Minister Shane Ross. He says there are state tools like Work Relations Commission to deal with industrial disputes.
Bríd Smith says the wages of workers are going to be dragged down. She says this industrial dispute is of interest to other transport providers.
“Ultimately the power is on the streets,” she says.
If Kenny doesn’t listen there will be national transport dispute, she warns.
The Taoiseach says he disagrees that Minister Ross is not doing enough.
“The solution and resolution to this strike is not outside the gates of Leinster House, it is around the table of the WRC,” says Kenny.
Smith is not happy at all and says Ross needs to be around that table.
That concludes Leaders’ Questions.
There is no doubt this latest garda controversy is going to have legs. Stay with us for all the latest news. If you want to continue watching Dáil proceedings you can click here.