Coalition rejects calls for penalty points inquiry

The Government has rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the cancellation of thousands of penalty points by gardaí.

The decision came as an Oireachtas Justice Committee considers if it will hold hearings on the Garda probe into the termination of fines and whether names, of gardaí and motorists linked with quashed points, will be published.

The committee’s chairman said yesterday legal advice would be sought.

However, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore ruled out calls for an independent probe.

He told the Dáil there were questions around how some points were cancelled, including cases where there was no documentary evidence of fines being terminated.

Insisting that there should be no doubts about the fixed penalty points system, he said there should be “no inside track” for anybody.

Despite Sinn Féin calls for an independent probe, Mr Gilmore said the best place for the Garda report to be examined was in the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

A Garda inquiry into the cancellation of penalty points found there was no corruption or deception by gardaí but said the system needed to be overhauled. Three senior members of the force face disciplinary procedures after the inquiry found they may not have followed guidelines on cancelling points.

Between Jan 2009 and June 2012, the inquiry discovered 66,407 offences were quashed out of a total of 1.4 million detected. Among those cleared, 37,384 were done so under the use of Garda “discretionary” powers.

Questions remain over 661 linked to the three gardaí along with several hundred about which whistleblowers raised concerns.

Oireachtas committee chairman David Stanton yesterday said the committee would meet next week and decide on how to proceed. He did not rule out publishing an un-redacted version of the investigation. This could feature names of the 138 gardaí who were involved in cancelling fines as well as thousands of motorists who had their points removed.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said this week it was an option for the committee. “It is also open to that committee, if it considers it necessary to facilitate its work, to request that I furnish to it, under parliamentary privilege, the appendices in un-redacted form and to consider whether it is necessary to its work that they be published.”

Reflecting on the minister’s remarks, Ms Stanton told the Irish Examiner: “We’re not ruling anything in or out. There may be people in there who have genuine reasons for getting reduced penalty points. I’d be concerned about their names being put into the public domain. What if they were caught [by gardaí] bringing someone in the back of the car to hospital? “We will take legal advice on the report. Members also may have different views.”


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