Reforms will stop penalty points abuse, says McCabe

Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe has said reforms prompted by an internal Garda investigation into penalty points "will stop abuse of the system".

Reforms will stop penalty points abuse, says McCabe

Sgt McCabe said he welcomed the investigation by the Garda Professional Standards Unit, whose reports are going to the Garda Ombudsman for detailed investigation.

“I welcome the report by the GPSU and its recommendations,” Sgt McCabe told the Irish Examiner.

“It will stop the abuse of the system.” The report recommended 114 cancellations — carried out by 21 current or former gardaí — be further examined. It also recommended: An enforcement team be set up to chase down “persistent evaders” of penalty points notices.

The Director of Public Prosecutions examine cancellation applications from gardaí who claim they were using private vehicles on police duties. In addition, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald took a further step — to the surprise of many — of establishing an independent oversight office, headed by a judge.

The GPSU investigation was ordered by Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan after Sgt McCabe made fresh allegations of continuing abuses in 2013 and 2014.

In his first comments on the report since it was published this week, Sgt McCabe said he had worked closely with the GPSU investigators. “The GPSU was excellent,” he said.

“I met them 10 times. It was great to see that we were on the same level — to get the situation tightened up.”

He singled out the creation of an enforcement team inside the fixed charge processing office in Thurles as particularly important. “The enforcement team is needed and it will tighten up on people evading the notices,” he said.

The report recommended this unit be set up to investigate the large number of penalty points — in the region of 6,000 a year — which are cancelled because the notices are returned undelivered.

Information provided to the GPSU by Sgt McCabe showed 23 of the 115 repeat offenders he highlighted had a total of 56 cancellations under the “Undelivered An Post” category. The report recommended that almost half of these cases be further investigated.

The report showed that the 115 repeat offenders involved 84 members of the public and 31 gardaí.

The report said the enforcement unit should comprise a sergeant and four gardaí. Both the commissioner and the justice minister backed the recommendation.

The Garda Ombudsman is conducting a massive investigation into linked penalty point allegations made by Sgt McCabe. The first set — constituting the bulk of cases — cover the period 2009 to 2012, while the second batch — examined by the GPSU — cover 2013 and 2014.

READ MORE: 21 serving or retired gardaí face further investigation over penalty points

More in this section