Gardaí and supervisors at odds on breath test scandal

Public fractures have opened up in the Garda frontline with rank and file members and their supervisors at sharp odds over the breath test scandal.

GRA leader Pat Ennis.

It followed a circular sent by the leader of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), Pat Ennis, to its 10,000 members, stating that the association’s central executive committee (CEC) believed “AGSI members instructed our members to inflate figures”.

The AGSI was taken aback and angered by the specific naming and singling out of its members and yesterday wrote to the GRA taking it to task for its comments.

In a statement, it said: “The AGSI rejects comments made by the GRA that our members are wholly responsible for the inflated breath tests. We have also written to the GRA expressing the same sentiments.”

The spat has deepened the crisis currently engulfing the organisation following the publication earlier this month of the breath test and the fixed charge notice reports by assistant commissioner Michael O’Sullivan and the retirement of Nóirín O’Sullivan as Garda Commissioner last Sunday week.

It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called on the GRA to produce evidence to back up its claims.

The assistant commissioner’s report estimated that of the 1.46m fake breath tests, between 106,000 (7%) and 318,500 (22%) were “inflated” by members.

Mr O’Sullivan said there were a range of other contributory factors including flawed and complicated recording systems, lack of training and supervision, and pressure (intentional or inadvertent) from management.

His report identified more than 2,000 specific checkpoints, where almost 70,000 breath tests were inflated.

The report has been sent to regional assistant commissioners and to chief superintendents to determine if any local investigations, including disciplinary action, should be taken.

However, sources said it will be difficult, if not impossible, in many cases to identify, let alone prove, which, or how many, gardaí in a checkpoint made up figures.

After a meeting of its central executive committee last Thursday, the GRA issued a statement blaming management “entirely” for the problem.

Spokesman John O’Keeffe insisted GRA members “elevated”, but did not “falsify”, the data — and that they did so under pressure from middle and senior management.

Some members of the CEC distanced themselves afterwards, prompting Mr Ennis to issue the circular to all members.

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