Garda 'struck off fixed notices'

Garda 'struck off fixed notices'

A Garda Inspector struck off up to 1,000 fixed notices for drivers all over the country, four TDs claimed as they called for a public inquiry into corruption in the force.

A dossier of evidence from garda whistleblowers also revealed that a Superintendent cleared penalty points and fines given to his wife, colleagues and their spouses, on top of having his own speeding tickets quashed.

Four TDs published some of the allegations, which includes thousands of cases of fixed notices being struck out, and accused Justice Minister Alan Shatter of downplaying the extent of the allegations.

Independent TD Clare Daly said the same rules should apply to all motorists - whether they have friends in high places or not.

“It’s screaming of a cover up to be honest,” she said.

The TDs claimed, under instruction from the Data Protection Commission, they were forced to exclude names of offenders and dates of incidents from the published version of the dossier.

Independent TD Mick Wallace was also joined by Independent Luke ’Ming’ Flanagan and People Before Profit TD Joan Collins in the call for a probe.

“There is a serious problem here. There is wide-scale abuse of the fixed point system and it requires a public, independent inquiry,” Mr Wallace said.

Mr Shatter, who stated last week that there are 197 cases of fixed notices being struck out, accused the TDs of being judge, jury and executioner.

“The deputies should resist the temptation to present themselves collectively as the accusers, investigators, judge, jury and hangmen and recognise their responsibility as legislators to respect the constitutional and human rights of others,” Mr Shatter said.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has appointed an Assistant Commissioner, John O’Mahony, to examine accusations that 50,000 notices were struck out, including those incurred by high-profile figures.

But the TDs argued that an internal investigation will not get to the bottom of what they described as “systemic corruption”.

The dossier claimed the Superintendent, who cleared tickets for his colleagues and their wives, also struck off a speeding ticket for an individual who had three separate speeding notices and a mobile phone ticket quashed previously.

It also revealed a State solicitor who had been caught speeding had his notice scrapped. The Inspector responsible said the solicitor was en route to an urgent case – the offence occurred on a Saturday.

The dossier claimed one motorist involved in a hit and run – in which a pedestrian was killed – previously had a 135kmph/100kmph speeding ticket struck out by a Garda Inspector.

Another driver, who had been caught using a mobile phone while driving in 2009, no tax in 2010, and speeding in 2011, had all three notices terminated by the same officer.

The TDs confirmed the examples listed in the evidence had been verified against the Garda electronic Pulse crime recording system.

Mr Wallace said the lack of consistency in the striking out of tickets was worrying.

“I wouldn’t say it’s location based because with the person who terminated in the region of 1,000, the people came from all over the country. That’s very worrying,” the Wexford TD said.

“There were people stopped in Longford, people stopped in Galway, people stopped in Tipperary and a certain inspector in one location happened to terminate them all.”

Ms Daly said the whistleblowers who compiled the dossier – serving gardai - have been “vilified” and “demonised” since their unmasking.

“The way they have been treated, they have effectively been gagged.”

Meanwhile, Mr Wallace, a tax defaulter after being found to have a €1.4m VAT bill, was forced to defend his credibility in the campaign.

As Mr Shatter accused him of “brass neck of the year”, the TDs said he and the Garda Commissioner were playing “fast and loose” with commitments given after the Morris Tribunal into garda corruption in Donegal.

But Mr Shatter claimed that the scandal concerns only a small minority of the alleged 50,000.

He said documentation being examined by the Commissioner’s office contained 402 allegations, a number of duplications, and an actual total of 197.

Mr Shatter accused the four TDs of pre-empting the internal Garda inquiry and violating the privacy of private citizens.

He said they were ignoring his statement last week that penalty points can be cancelled in legitimate circumstances.

The minister revealed that the investigation has shown one case where a parent was taking a sick child to hospital and was hit with a fixed penalty which was subsequently cancelled.

Other cases identified in the review include an individual who was given a penalty for speeding when the registration number had been wrongly recorded and some instances where people engaged with the ambulance service were given notices for speeding.

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