Report into Garda breath test scandal delayed

Gardaí have been accused of attempting to “bury” the reasons for the fake breath tests scandal after it emerged the report into the controversy will now not be published until next month — after the Dáil breaks up for the summer.

Members of the cross-party Dáil Public Accounts Committee made the claim after being told Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will not provide the report as planned when she appears before the committee next week.

In response to revelations earlier this year that almost one million fake breath tests were recorded on the Garda Pulse system, Ms O’Sullivan was to make public a final report into what happened, how, and who was responsible.

A second interim report into the controversy was criticised by Policing Authority chair Josephine Feehily last week for containing “no analysis at all” on the fake figures.

A more detailed final report was due to be provided to the PAC next Thursday — the final day before the Dáil breaks until September — however, the committee was yesterday told this document will be delayed until August.

Asked about the breath test reports at yesterday’s PAC meeting, chairman Sean Fleming said while Ms O’Sullivan will attend next Thursday’s meeting, “the report will not be finished by the end of the month”.

Members of the PAC were critical after they were told no explanation was given for the unexpected delay.

“I’m always quite conscious of the fact the August bank holiday is a great way to bury things,” said Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said the reality is “the public still do not have answers” about what happened.

Ms O’Sullivan faced similar criticism over the delays last week when Policing Authority chair Josephine Feehily said the lack of clarity months after the scandal emerged was unacceptable.

In a comment directed at Ms O’Sullivan, Ms Feehily said the second interim report into the fake breath tests controversy contained “no analysis at all” as to the reasons for what happened.

She said “one would have thought” some preliminary analysis would now be available as the issues were first revealed in spring and the now-delayed report to the PAC was at the time due “in less than three weeks”.

Ms Feehily said the situation is increasingly unacceptable, and noted the Policing Authority has recently contracted a professional firm to audit the breath test and fixed charge notice issues themselves.

The situation emerged as the PAC heard fresh concerns over the separate Garda college financial scandal as it attempts to finalise a report into the controversy.

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