An investigation into the quashing of penalty points by the Garda police in the 26 Counties has found consistent and widespread wrongdoing within the force, humiliating Dublin’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter and the Garda police commissioner, Martin Callinan.
The inquiry, by the Garda Inspectorate, found widespread evidence of corrupt practices. It also attacked management after finding “no meaningful evidence” of good supervision of the system.
As part of its examination of two separate inquiries into the scandal, the inspectorate examined the cancellation of fixed-charge notices for motoring offences in nine different Garda districts. And as a result of sweeping reforms recommended by it, the power to terminate motorists’ penalty points will now be taken out of the hands of local Garda officers and centralised under a much stricter system.
Widespread breaches in the penalty points system were uncovered. In more than half of the cases - between August 2012 and January 2013 - there was no evidence to support why the offences were wiped out. It found that a number of individuals lost their lives in road traffic accidents in which the culpable driver had motoring offences expunged from their record.
The report broadly supported claims of widespread and systematic corruption within the Gardai, allegations which were denied for years and described as “disgusting” by Callinan in comments which were also supported by the Minister for Justice.
Both would have been sacked long before now had the controversy about the quashing of penalty points occurred in Britain, it was claimed in the Dublin parliament.
There were heated exchanges between the Minister and Independent TD Mick Wallace during Justice Question Time.
Mr Wallace said it was almost two years since the Minister had heard about the controversy. “You’ve been dragged kicking and screaming to this point in making a few changes,” he told Mr Shatter.
He said the Minister has been trying to evade the penalty points scandal for two years. “If this was Britain, Minister, your head would have rolled long before now and so would the commissioner’s,” he said. “But that wouldn’t even be enough because there’s still need for a cultural change in how the force works.
“It’s actually unfair to all the honest gardai who are in the force, you have undermined the confidence and trust in the force”.
Garda Whistleblower John Wilson is now seeking an apology from the Taoiseach and Minister Shatter for the treatment he received after he raised concerns about the penalty-points system. Both he and another whistleblower, Maurice McCabe, said they were marginalised and vilified as a result of raising concerns about the situation.
“I want an apology from Mr Kenny and from Mr Shatter. It’s that simple,” Mr Wilson.
“We acted lawfully at all times. We were ridiculed and our allegations were minimised by Minister Shatter and the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.”