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'Dysfunctional and flawed': TDs slam penalty points investigation

Mick Wallace, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Clare Daly and Joan Collins have criticised the reports into the practice of cancelling penalty points which largely cleared gardaí.

Mick Wallace and Clare Daly (File photo)
Mick Wallace and Clare Daly (File photo)
Image: Photocall Ireland (File)

FOUR INDEPENDENT TDs have criticised two reports into the cancellation of penalty points which found no evidence of widespread corruption or deception in the writing-off of fixed charge notices.

Mick Wallace, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Clare Daly and Joan Collins said at a press conference today that the structure and approach of the investigations carried out by assistant garda commissioner John O’Mahoney and the Garda Professsional Standards Unit (GPSU)  ”seriously damages” the credibility of the reports and their conclusions.

The TDs said it was clear that the whole policy and practice of gardaí in relation to fixed charge notice cancellations “is by their own admission and according to their own internal review and the GPSU report non-complaint, dysfunctional and flawed at every possible level.”

The internal garda report published earlier this month examined the practice of some gardaí quashing penalty points but found that anonymous allegations made about inappropriate writing-off of Fixed Charge notices “cannot be substantiated to any degree”.

It identified three possible departures from administrative procedural guidelines in respect of terminations conducted by three officers. They were among 113 terminating offices who were included in the investigation but there was “no evidence to suggest any act of criminality, corruption, deception or falsification”.

At a press conference today the independent TDs pointed out that no criminality had ever been alleged and said there was discrepancies in Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s account of when he learned of the allegations about cancellation of penalty point made by two garda whistleblowers.

“This investigation failed to adhere to the two basic standards of natural and constitutional justice,” the TDs said in a statement.

They said the two reports had shown that there was no formal system for the exercise of garda discretion in cancelling fixed charge notices.

They also said that the Garda Commissioner and the Minister had failed to protect the two whistleblowing gardaí who first highlighted the issue. Wallace pointed out that the whistleblowers were not interviewed during the investigation.

“The report leaves a lot to be desired. There is things in the report which point out a lot of what has been going on and their [the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice] summaries appear to ignore a lot of it,” Wallace said.

Flanagan said the whistleblowers should be treated like “national heroes” but had instead been ignored. Collins said that the whole controversy had highlighted inequality in the cancellation of penalty points.

The TDs said they would be making a submission to the Oireachtas Justice Committee – though Wallace said the government majority meant there is an “element of bias” in that committee – and planned legislation to address the structure of policing in Ireland and the “unhealthy and incestuous” relationship between gardaí and the government.

In fullthe four TDs’ analysis of the Garda inquiry (PDF) >

Watch: Mick Wallace says he was the victim of an unlawful arrest

Read: Gardaí should be able to quash penalty points for ‘humanitarian reasons’

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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