‘Give names’ of those responsible for faking breath test figures, says Acting Commissioner

Acting Commissioner Donal Ó Cualáin has called on frontline members who claim they were pressurised by managers into faking breath test figures to “give names” of those responsible.

Graduates in high spirits at the passing-out ceremony at the Garda College in Templemore. Picture: Press 22

He said Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, who conducted the internal report into the breath test and fixed charge notice scandals, was conducting a further examination into claims made by the Garda Representative Association (GRA) last week.

The GRA said management was to be blamed “entirely” for the problem — in which 1.4m recorded breath tests were faked — and refused to accept that members had falsified the tests.

They said members had “elevated” the results and insisted that this was under “pressure” and “duress” from middle and senior management.

The GRA further specified that members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, their immediate supervisors, had put them under this pressure — a claim disputed by the AGSI.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of 181 trainees at Templemore College, Mr Ó Cualáin said Deputy Commissioner John Twomey had tasked Mr O’Sullivan to conduct further inquiries as a result of the claims.

“If there is anyone out there that can provide evidence that those matters can still be looked into, if they can provide names of people who have done allegedly what was supposed to have happened,” he said, calling on them to give it to the assistant commissioner.

He pointed out that Mr O’Sullivan, at the start of his investigation into breath tests, had invited people with information to come forward.

Mr Twomey said it was “unacceptable that anybody falsified records” or conducted “any wrongdoing” in the area.

“This is an organisational issue, it’s a behavioural issue that is not acceptable for members of An Garda Síochána,” he said. “It has done damage to the reputation and certainly something that the acting commissioner and the management team will work day and night to restore.”

However, he accepted that the O’Sullivan report did identify a number of factors involved in the fake 1.4m breath tests — including policies, training, governance, supervision and IT.

“But, most of all, it spoke about behaviour of the organisation, that’s probably most disappointing about what has been said,” he said. “It is unacceptable.”

He said Garda bosses still needed to “get to the bottom” of what the GRA had alleged and said it was “vitally important” they got the evidence to back up the claims.

Asked was it fair to possibly launch disciplinary proceedings against frontline gardaí, when the O’Sullivan report identified a range of contributory factors, he said: “Michael O’Sullivan has identified in some detail in that area, I think we have to await findings when the work is completed.”

As reported in the Irish Examiner, Mr Twomey met the four representative associations about the issue earlier this week.

Mr Twomey said the O’Sullivan report identified a “complex” problem.

“It’s complex and we can’t get away from that fact,” he said. “You can’t bring a simple solution to what is a complex issue.”

Responding to calls that Templemore College should be closed down given the persistent cultural problems in the organisation, Mr Ó Cualáin said it has served the organisation “well” over the years.

“It has worked for us very well to date, as far as I am concerned, and we’re here today to witness the result that very efficient way of training that has served us so well down through the years,” he said.

He said that the future of the college will be discussed by both the Policing Commission and the Garda Síochána.

Mr Ó Cualáin praised the record of Nóirín O’Sullivan, particularly in her drafting of the Modernisation and Renewal Programme and said she “deserves great credit”.

He disputed claims, including from frontline garda staff associations, that morale was at rock bottom, but admitted that there were “pockets” of people who might feel that way.

“When you look at our operational front, in particular, the results we are getting there, I don’t think we’d be achieving those kinds of results if morale is as bad as people say it is,” said Mr Ó Cualáin.

“I’m sure there are pockets of people who may be feeling the brunt of all of the negative commentary and someway exposed to it.”

Of the 181 probationary gardaí, 76 are going to Dublin, 39 to the Eastern Region, 16 to the Southern Region, 24 to the South East, 16 to the Northern Region and 10 to the West.

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