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Frances Fitzgerald: This is very different, we're listening to Maurice McCabe

The Justice Minister has been speaking about the fresh penalty points controversy today.

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald
Image: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

FRANCES FITZGERALD HAS pledged that the investigation into new allegations about the cancellation of penalty points will be different to previous probes.

The Justice Minister was speaking after it emerged that whistleblower Maurice McCabe will work with gardaí auditing the new fixed charge processing system after he claimed that points are still being cancelled improperly despite wide-ranging reforms to the system introduced last June.

McCabe’s new allegations reportedly relate to off-duty members cancelling points after falsely claiming they were driving Garda cars at the time of the offences.

It is not clear whether these cancellations took place after the reforms brought in by the acting Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan which give just three people the authority to cancel points.

“This is very different. We’re listening to the whistleblower, he’s involved with the gardaí in assessing precisely what is involved, what the scale of it is,” Fitzgerald said today at an event in Dublin Airport.

She said that new guidelines around cancellation of points are “very different” and that it is important to find out “precisely what has been happening since June”.

‘Inefficiencies’

Fitzgerald also said that the gardaí have been through “an extremely difficult time” and stressed the importance of reflecting on the positive work they do.

However, she added: “But clearly, where there are inefficiencies, where there is indiscipline that has to be dealt with and certainly that is the case that where organisational reform is needed that has to happen and all of that is under way.” 

She said that the acting commissioner intends to carry out the audit “as quickly as possible” with a report, which will be made public, expected within a matter of weeks.

“It’s important that people have confidence in how the law is applied and that it applies equally to everyone,” she said.

Fitzgerald was also asked about the delay in publishing the terms of reference for a Commission of Inquiry on foot of the Guerin report into McCabe’s allegations of garda malpractice and misconduct. The report led to the resignation of Alan Shatter as justice minister in May though he is challenging some of its findings in the High Court.

Fitzgerald explained that the reason for the delay was because some 270 historic cases, some of which have been through the courts, are currently being considered by a review group set up by her department. She said she expects a report from the review group “shortly”.

State of the Nation: Is Maurice McCabe ruining Frances Fitzgerald’s honeymoon?

Read: McCabe had ‘constructive’ penalty points meeting but still feels ‘not accepted’ in force

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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