‘Penalty points crisis hits confidence’

One of the country’s top gardaí has expressed concern that the recent controversy surrounding the quashing of penalty points has hindered public confidence in road safety enforcement.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Gerard Phillips, who heads up the Garda National Traffic Bureau, said the issue had been unhelpful in getting out the message that the law was applied equally to all motorists.

Asked if he found the controversy frustrating, Mr Phillips replied: “It certainly doesn’t help but we have to put that aside“.

The Assistant Commissioner also acknowledged that gardaí sometimes feel intimidated when challenging motorists at checkpoints and other enforcement of road traffic legislation.

Mr Phillips also confirmed that individual gardaí have discretion about what they record on the Garda PULSE system.

Although he made no reference to the controversial checkpoint incident involving Justice Minister Alan Shatter, Mr Phillips said gardaí can input any information about the incident which they feel is necessary to the system.

Meanwhile, Health Minister James Reilly has supported calls for reform of legislation which allows TDs to evade Garda checkpoints while travelling to and from the Dáil. “The idea that privilege should pertain on leaving the Dáil strikes me as odd, and I think that is something the Government will probably look at,” said Dr Reilly.

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