The so-called garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe is still being isolated within the gardaí, according to John McGuinness, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr McGuinness made his comments yesterday at the publication of the committee’s report on the abuse of the penalty points system, which was initiated after McCabe had contacted the committee.
The Fianna Fáil TD thanked Garda McCabe for the evidence he gave the committee and said he would prefer to refer to him as “a concerned member of the force” rather than a whistleblower.
“It’s my belief that what he did has not been fully appreciated,” said Mr McGuinness. “He is still isolated in the force.”
The final report did not include a reference from the draft report to remarks by former commissioner Martin Callinan that the whistleblowers’ actions were “disgusting”. Mr McGuinness said the committee did not want to “single out” anyone in their report.
The matter was investigated following claims from Sergeant McCabe and former garda John Wilson that thousands of fixed charged notices were being cancelled on the flimsiest of basis, with particular emphasis on repeat offenders. The committee estimates between €5m and €6m was lost to the Exchequer due to the abuse over the two-year period examined.
The report published yesterday highlighted systemic weaknesses and made a number of recommendations, most of which have incorporated into Garda practice.
The committee also recommended that the force should report annually on the number of charges cancelled using discretion, the number of petitions received, and the number of petitions rejected.
McGuinness urged that individuals from outside the force should be appointed to assess whether the system was working as designed.
Last night, acting Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said her officers were “fully committed to improving the effectiveness and transparency of the penalty points system”.
“Following reports by the C&AG and Garda Inspectorate... An Garda Síochána introduced major changes in June 2014 to strengthen governance and oversight of the system,” she said.
“On receiving the report, An Garda Síochána will immediately review the recommendations and examine how best they can be implemented as part of the on-going changes to the penalty points system.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved