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fixed charges

'Motorists were wrongly fined' --- speed camera whistleblower

Alan Shatter says he’s pursuing claims detailed tonight on Prime Time with the new Garda Commissioner

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has said his Department is looking into claims detailed on tonight’s Prime Time that motorists were wrongly fined for speeding offences.

The RTÉ programme featured testimony from a whistleblower who worked at a company contracted to carry out speed-checks on behalf of the gardaí.

The former GoSafe employee explained how he was told by management to capture images of passing drivers, after setting up his roadside equipment on 13 May 2012 — even though he told them over the phone that conditions meant he wasn’t able to set up properly, and therefore readings wouldn’t be accurate.

He said he was told twice by managers that the images he captured wouldn’t be processed.

However, court proceedings still went ahead for some drivers. The programme team established that five motorists logged on the day in question had had penalty points imposed.

They were told by Gardaí that the points weren’t erased or points reversed “because the setup issue would have resulted in a maximum deviation of  2 km/h, and the detected speeds, taking into account this deviation, were above the limit”.

However, the whistleblower told the programme team there was no way of knowing just what effect his equipment problems would have had, as he was unable to say just how far off-angle his radar camera had been on the day.

Other vehicles

The whistleblower also said he logged around another 30 vehicles thought to be over the limit on the same day.

Those drivers did not receive fixed charge notices. The statement to the programme from Gardaí said this could happen for a variety of reasons “for example, the registration plate may not be readable, or the vehicle may be registered in another jurisdiction”.

Other GoSafe workers in the same depot as the whistleblower featured had also raised concerns about speed-camera equipment in recent years.

Court cases

In recent weeks District Court Judge Patrick Durcan has heavily criticised the handling of GoSafe prosecutions in his court, saying they were “badly and appallingly” put together.

“One after one, their prosecutions seem to fall for one bad reason after another,’ he told Kilrush District Court. Judge Mary Devins has also struck out or adjourned cases which rely on GoSafe operators for prosecutions.

Sinn Fein and Independent TDs raised the matter in parliamentary questions to Minister Shatter in January, February and June of last year — after which the Minister responded that An Garda Siochána was satisfied with the service provided by GoSafe.

Following further parliamentary questions from Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins in July and November of last year, Shatter said he had asked the Garda Commissioner for a report into the allegations.

According to a statement to Prime Time from the Department of Justice:

Following examination of the report, further information was sought to enable the Minister to respond fully to Deputy Collins.

In addition at the request of the Minister further information from An Garda Síochána was sought in relation to certain media reports arising from court proceedings.

These matters continue to be pursued with the new Garda Commissioner.

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