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'No one believes An Garda Síochana': Calls for shake-up to garda management

The Policing Authority is to examine the full facts of how and why two massive garda admin errors occurred.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE TÁNAISTE HAS called a massive administrative and logging error by gardaí “appalling and staggering”.

Yesterday, it was revealed that gardaí miscounted the number of breath tests they carried out over the past five years by almost one million.

It was also revealed that 146,856 summonses to court were wrongly issued to drivers over the past 10 years. The assistant commissioner of An Garda Síochána said it was also possible that some of these people could take legal action against the State.

In an interview with RTÉ News, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald called the scale of the error “appalling and staggering”.

The public will be concerned about the discrepancy in relation to the million figure, which means effectively that it was across the whole system.

“So it does raise issues around supervision and accountability in relation to this issue.”

Solidarity TDs meanwhile are calling on the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to resign, saying that ‘no one can believe a thing coming from An Garda Síochána’.

90431823_90431823 Paul Murphy: "This equates to every single Garda in the country logging 65 false breath tests." Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Paul Murphy TD said “The cliché about this being the straw that broke the camel’s back would normally apply when it comes to Commissioner O’Sullivan’s tenure but the reality is that she should already have vacated her position over the victimisation of the whistle-blowers.”

Ruth Coppinger agreed, saying:

Ministers Shane Ross and Frances Fitzgerald should immediately face the public and tell us what they are going to do. The first place they should start is with the Commissioner by demanding her resignation.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that confidence in management at An Garda Síochána was “already on the floor”.

Some of these scandals surrounding the gardaí were the penalty-points scandal, the controversy surrounding the tapping of phone calls at garda stations, and the force’s treatment of whistleblowers.

The latest revelations come as part of what is a never-ending crisis. It is a mess. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said that she is concerned. This is not good enough.

“The Minister must demand a comprehensive explanation from Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan about this latest debacle. The Minister must also make a detailed statement to the Dáil.”

Explanation?

Whistleblower Story Source: Eamonn Farrell

The Tánaiste this afternoon released a statement looking to clarify the timeline of events and action taken in relation to the breath tests and court summonses (or fixed charge notices, which is what they should have been).

In relation to the fixed charge notices An Garda Síochána issued a press statement on 10 June 2016 and wrote to the Department to indicate they were conducting a nationwide audit.
As a result of this audit a further report was provided to the Department on 14 March 2017 and the final figures were presented by An Garda Síochána at their press conference on 23 March 2017.
Also on the 10 June 2016 the Department was informed that an audit was under way in relation to mandatory alcohol testing.

The audit began because of concerns that were raised about the data held in relation to breath tests.

In February 2017 An Garda Síochána indicated the full results of the audit would be available by the end of Q2 2017.
An Garda Síochána indicated in June 2016 that solutions had been put in place in both circumstances.

Fitzgerald said that it was for situations and cases like this that the Policing Authority was established. She said that she spoke to the chair of the Authority, who would be examining “the full facts about how this happened, why it happened.”
Fitzgerald also said that the Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has assured that measures have been taken so that the breath test mistake won’t occur again.

“I have made it clear to the Commissioner,” Fitzgerald said in a statement this evening, “That the practices that allowed this misreporting to happen within An Garda Síochána over many years need to be fully addressed and the new systems that she has put in place will need to be robust, tested and verified in the time ahead.”

Read: Garda errors led to thousands of drivers being wrongly convicted

Read: Gardaí recorded almost one million more breath tests than they actually carried out

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