Latest: Garda Commissioner still has government's confidence, says Taoiseach

Update 7pm: The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Garda Commissioner still has his confidence, despite a damning report on the breath testing scandal.

The internal Garda report shows nearly one and a half million tests recorded on the Pulse system, never actually happened.

The Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has admitted the findings are "completely unacceptable" and damage public confidence in the force.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says sanctions should follow "where appropriate".

The report's led to opposition calls for the resignation of Garda Commissioner.

But in an interview with TV3, the Taoiseach said the Nóirín O'Sullivan still has the government's confidence.

He went on: "The problems and the unacceptable practices that arose ... began before the current Gardai Commissioner became Commissioner. As far as the government is concerned what happened is entirely unacceptable."

Update 5.20pm: An Garda Síochána has published the findings of the review by Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan of issues relating to the fixed charge penalty notice system and the recording of breath-tests at checkpoints.

An internal audit into the gross exaggeration found 1,458,221 bogus drink and drug-driving checks from 2009 to 2016.

The report revealed 3,498,400 tests were recorded on the Garda's Pulse computer system, but only 2,040,179 were carried out.

The reports highlighted a number of significant failures relating to these matters and provide a series of recommendations.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has said Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan’s reports identify failures in Garda systems, processes, oversight, supervision and management.

"These failures are completely unacceptable and all of us in An Garda Síochána must now take responsibility for ensuring this cannot happen again," said O'Sullivan.

Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan noted that the failure to provide the public and external agencies with accurate breath-test data reflects poorly on the professionalism of the organisation.

He also said: "…that evidence also suggest members of An Garda Síochána were also engaged in inflating this data, whether intentional or unintentional, is even more damaging to public confidence.”

She has said that changes have already been introduced and they are committed to "ensuring the required cultural, behavioural and systems changes are made."

"I agree with Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan when he writes that these failures, particularly in relation to breath tests, reflect poorly on the professionalism of the organisation and are damaging to public confidence," she said.

"It is vital that An Garda Síochána continues to have the public’s confidence and support in order to carry out our work,” she added.

Among the recommendations from the report are that alcohol checkpoints are reduced and that only positive breath tests are recorded.

In relation to the people who were incorrectly penalised from the fixed charge penalty notice system that saw almost 15,000 people incorrectly charged, An Garda Síochána has said they are working with the Courts Service to ensure all wrongful convictions are appealed.

The first test appeal cases came before the Dublin Circuit Court on July 19 and were heard by the President of the Circuit Court. All of the cases were successfully appealed and the Court Services are in the process of updating the records of those concerned and returning fines paid.

Assistant Commissioner O'Sullivan found that there were too many people involved in the fixed charge notice system, and that frontline gardaí knew little about how the complex system worked.

An Garda Síochána has been fully assisting Crowe Horwath, an accounting firm who were commissioned by the Policing Authority, to review and assess the process employed and the outcomes of each of the investigations conducted by Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan.

While the firm is conducts this work, An Garda Síochána said it would "not be appropriate" for them to comment further until the review is concluded.

The full reports can be read below:

MAT checkpoint examination report:

Fixed Charge Penalty Point System examination report:

Earlier:The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, has said he is "greatly disturbed" by the findings of the reports into the Garda breath test scandal.

It emerged today that an investigation into the false recording of almost a million breath tests on An Garda Síochána computer systems has discovered a further 500,000 false tests were recorded but not carried out.

Gardaí were under the impression that between 2011 and 2016, more than 933,000 false breath tests had been recorded on the force's Pulse system, but the Assistant Commissioner has established that the figure is over 1.4 million, dating back to 2009.

The report finds some gardaí were inflating the numbers, while others did not know how to properly record them.

The report by the Assistant Garda Commissioner, Michael O'Sullivan, found that members of the force were making up the figures and in some cases, the figures were exaggerated by as much as 300%.

The Assistant Commissioner's report concludes that the controversy surrounding the false breath tests reflects poorly on the organisation and has undermined the public's confidence in the service.

The Justice Minister has confirmed that he got copies of the reports by the Assistant Commissioner and briefed the Cabinet on them.

The reports will be published by An Garda Siochána later today.

Mr Flanagan said: "The reports identify serious and concerning problems in the operation of both the Mandatory Alcohol Testing checkpoint system and the Fixed Charge Processing System. Both reports indicate that An Garda Síochána has already put a range of measures in place to address issues around data collection and recording and the operation of both the MATS and FCPS systems.

"I am greatly disturbed by findings that indicate that between 3% and 9% of the PULSE records relating to MAT/MIT checkpoints are estimated to have inflated breath tests."

He confirmed that any of the cases identified in the report will be further investigated and sanction will apply.

He said: "This is critically important. Enormous responsibility and great trust is vested in An Garda Síochána and it is therefore vital that members of the force discharge their duties with professionalism and integrity.

"The report on the Fixed Charge Processing System identifies technical and training/guidance problems and indicates that the IT solutions to the issues identified have been effective in preventing further occurrences.

"It also proposes solutions to the other issues, which will be examined in detail in conjunction with the Policing Authority report. I welcome the steps underway to remedy the situation where drivers were incorrectly issued with summons arising from these failures and I acknowledge the impact on drivers affected."

He concluded by saying that he looked forward to getting the Policing Authority report into the issues in the coming weeks.

He said: "I will take all appropriate action when this report is submitted to me."


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