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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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Clare Daly asks Commissioner why she was brought to court over driving offence

More than 14,000 people were summoned to court erroneously.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

DURING A ROBUST round of questioning of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and two members of her senior management, Clare Daly used her own personal experience with traffic policing to examine the current scandals around fixed charge notices and breath testing.

At a Justice Committee hearing this morning, the Independents4Change TD was trying to establish a correct timeline on when the gardaí knew there was an issue with court summons – and when they fixed it.

According to Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, an IT solution implemented in May 2016 ensured that it is “not technically possible to issue a summons for a Fixed Charge Notice [offence] without [a FCN first being issued]“.

“I wonder how you could tell me then that I was summonsed to the CCJ on 12 December last year for an alleged motoring offence which allegedly took place in March of 2016 where no FCN was issued,” Daly countered.

“I don’t think I’m that special, to be honest. I know it’s a fact because I’ve got a few FCNs before, I know what they look like and if I had got it, I would have known.

Coincidentally, on receipt of a FCN that I actually did get in October last year, I was in Naas Court and met some people there who were there precisely because they hadn’t got a FCN and had been summonsed to court.

“They spent a day in that court and because they were pleading not guilty, the judge adjourned and they had to come back another day. Now that was in October and December of last year.”

Daly then questioned if the committee could believe what garda management was telling it, given the contradictory evidence directly available to its members.

“The point here is that we have – the public in particular – have the reality posed in front of them where they cannot trust information coming from senior garda management,” she continued.

Twomey noted that a FCN being issued does not ensure it will be received.

“Are you saying all those cases are on the fault of An Post?” Daly asked.

Twomey did not put blame on the postal service, but did say that gardaí are now confident in their current IT systems.

O’Sullivan said that Daly’s specific experience would be examined – and that management would be “happy” if it identified further issues.

Apology

The embattled Commissioner faced questions from all committee members this morning about the two current controversies dogging An Garda Síochána.

Making a statement on the FCN problems and the revelations that almost one million breath tests recorded never actually happened, she apologised for “the grave mistakes and wrongdoing during the last decade that have led to the two controversies we are here today to discuss”.

“Those mistakes and wrongdoings are unacceptable in policing terms, unacceptable in ethical terms, unacceptable in terms of public trust, and, most critically, unacceptable to the advocacy and support groups involved in road safety and to those who were wrongly brought to court,” she continued.

They have raised serious issues about how we managed the service, how certain Gardaí operated on the ground and their supervision. Given the scale of these issues, they can’t simply be blamed on one individual or one area. It is a collective failure. From top down to bottom up.

She also conceded that further problems with the force’s data could emerge in the future.

“When we turn over stones, we will find things that are wrong,” she said. However, she noted that she has no indications on what areas within the organisation could be problematic.

Read: Nóirin O’Sullivan calls country’s top officers to garda HQ and urges them to support her

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