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Penalty Points

Three 'possible breaches' identified in penalty points report

Anonymous allegations made about possible garda corruption were found to be unsubstantiated.

ALAN SHATTER HAS published a report which examines why a number of penalty points were quashed by gardaí, while Commissioner Martin Callinan has noted that there is no evidence of corruption or criminal conduct.

The investigation by assistant garda commissioner, John O’Mahoney, found that the anonymous allegations made about inappropriate writing off of Fixed Charge Notices “cannot be substantiated to any degree”.

“On the basis of material examined, this examination has found no evidence to suggest any act of criminality, corruption, deception or falsification as alleged by the anonymous author,” the report outlined.

However, the probe identified three possible departures from administrative procedural guidelines in respect of terminations conducted by three of the 113 terminating officers who came within the scope of the allegations. They have been referred for further investigation to the Assistant Commissioner at Internal Affairs. The three officers who are subject to this probe terminated a total of 661 penalty point notices. A separate accusation was laid against another officer in relation to the quashing of a number of Fixed Charge Notices prior to this investigation. That matter is currently being examined and no names have been revealed.

O’Mahony said his investigation highlighted certain technical procedural breaches and inconsistencies and, in some isolated cases, possible individual failings.

Details of the allegations by a garda whistleblower were made public following claims by a number of independent TDs. Dublin deputy Joan Collins used parliamentary privilege to name three people – including a sports star, journalist and judge – who she believed had penalty points inappropriately wiped.

Allegations and data

The anonymous accusations detailed 189 penalty point notices that were quashed between 2009 and 2012. The whistleblower claimed serious corruption, destruction and erasing of records, as well as perverting the course of justice, falsification and deception.

O’Mahony’s report found that during those years, about 4.55 per cent of more than 1.46 million notices issued were terminated but this figure included some which were subject to technical issues and systems errors.

Terminations conducted by authorised officers exercising discretionary powers amounted to 2.57 per cent of the total issued. This equates to the write off of 37,384 notices in three-and-a-half-years. The number was described as “relatively small” by the document.

Excluding the 661 terminations subject to a further examination because of possible breaches by officers, 1537 terminations were looked at during the investigation.

Of those, 1,339 were found to be within the correct administrative procedures but 198 were described as “not to have been strictly” within those same processes.

Seven recipients of penalty points who subsequently had them quashed had “an identifiable family connection to a member of An Garda Síochána”.

O’Mahony said that if the author of the allegations had access to more complete information, he/she “may have found perfectly reasonable and legitimate rationale for the termination of the greater majority” of penalty points.

A number of recommendations about administrative difficulties have been made to ensure robust measures are taken to “future proof the system and to strengthen and preserve its integrity”.

Names to be redacted in garda report on quashed penalty points

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