The Garda Commissioner has attacked the actions of a whistleblower in the force as “disgusting, inappropriate, and patently wrong”.
Martin Callinan told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee it was not the correct forum to raise allegations of widespread abuse of the penalty points system. He said its examination of the allegations, contained in a “box of evidence” given to the committee chairman, John McGuinness in November, is having an “adverse effect on the maintenance of discipline and good order” in the force.
“I cannot have a situation where members are coming in, making very serious allegations of a criminal nature, and using platforms such as this committee to air their grievances,” he said. “It is grossly unfair.”
Mr Callinan appeared before the PAC yesterday and said that “countless and endless hours must have been spent on the computer, counting and searching, and that is clearly wrong”.
He said: “It is a far different thing if a member of the Garda Síochána observes something is wrong and reports it. But to start going into a system, and trawling a system looking for difficulties or perceived wrongdoing, that is patently wrong.”
Independent TD Shane Ross suggested that the gardaí in question did not have any other options but to pursue the issue in the way they did.
“People who make these allegations are always rare because they are fearful for their positions,” he said.
“This committee is happy to give a voice to such people and provide that platform that you object to.”
One whistleblower, who is still with the force, provided the box of evidence to the PAC in November and is willing to appear before the committee next Thursday. Another whistleblower, who is now retired, has indicated that he too is willing to appear before the PAC.
Mr Callinan said they were “selective” with the information they chose to bring forward and rather than giving it to third parties, they should “report wrongdoing to their superiors”.
Referring to himself, he said: “There is a certain irony here that the person that is charged with policing the security of this State — that we all put our trust and belief in on a daily basis — the man that is responsible for all of those matters, is the very person that stands accused of not being open and transparent. I find that extraordinary.”
The commissioner said his office only received one confidential report on the issue, on Apr 4, 2012, relating to a superintendent who had cancelled four penalty points.
“I have nothing before or since that date on the confidential reporting file to indicate there was any mention of penalty points,” he said.
A response was issued to the complaint on Dec 23 that year, he said, prompting Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald to suggest that the person making the allegation might have “lost confidence in the system” during the eight-month period.
Ms McDonald said the two individuals concerned had a different account of events to what Mr Callinan presented. She said the individuals concerned also say they were isolated and victimised.
“We can’t allow the committee to be a platform to disparage or to cast a question mark over the good name of those two individuals who did come forward,” she said.
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