herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

Gardai 'are still abusing penalty points system'

Whistleblower Garda Sgt.Maurice McCabe
Whistleblower Garda Sgt.Maurice McCabe

PUBLIC Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness has claimed gardai are "deliberately constructing" excuses to continue terminating penalty points.

Mr McGuinness made the comments as he launched the spending watchdog's report on garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe's original penalty-point allegations.

He said recent claims by Sgt McCabe that points are still being wrongly cancelled need to be addressed urgently.

"Excuses are being deliberately constructed to go unnoticed or untraced and it is clear from evidence available that those who had penalty points quashed, those repeat offenders, continue to have their penalty points dealt with in that way," Mr McGuinness said.

The Public Account Committee (PAC) report on Sgt McCabe's original penalty point allegations was published yesterday afternoon.

The report found the penalty point systems operated by gardai had "systematic weaknesses" which resulted in 20pc of fines not being collected.

It said these "leaks out of the system" resulted in loss of €6m in revenue.

It recommended creating a charter for whistleblowers and carrying out annual audits of cancelled penalty points.

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan welcomed the publication of the report and said she is committed to "improving the effectiveness and transparency" of the system.

"On receiving the report, An Garda Siochana will immediately review the recommendations and examine how best they can be implemented as part of the on-going changes to the penalty points system," she said.

"An Garda Siochana's primary focus is in ensuring that the penalty points system continues its success in improving road safety and reducing road deaths."

At the report's launch, Mr McGuinness claimed Sgt McCabe is still being "isolated" by senior members of the force despite assurances from Ms O'Sullivan that whistleblowers would be protected.

Mr McGuinness said Sgt McCabe's testimony before a private PAC hearing in January "struck each and every member of the committee".

bullying

He said Sgt McCabe did not name anyone or undermine anyone's position in the force during the meeting. He said the public should know Sgt McCabe raised his concerns because he "respected the force".

Sgt McCabe has met with Ms O'Sullivan and a senior garda has been appointed to deal with his complaints of bullying and harassment.

He is understood to have found the meeting with Ms O'Sullivan constructive.

Sgt McCabe is currently working with the Garda Professional Standards Unit on his recent penalty point allegations.

It is believed the audit of penalty points is continuing into next week after which a report will be compiled.

hnews@herald.ie

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