Penalty points allegations rejected by Justice Minister

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald strongly rejected allegations made in the Dáil by Sinn Féin TD Pádraig MacLochlainn about senior gardaí getting penalty points wiped.
Penalty points allegations rejected by Justice Minister

Mr MacLochlainn claimed in the Dáil on Tuesday that a Garda superintendent had points wiped from his licence this year while driving in his personal car — an allegation he repeated last night.

However, despite the Sinn Féin justice spokesman warning he will take the information to the Garda inspectorate next Tuesday if it is not acted on, Ms Fitzgerald told the Irish Examiner the allegations made in the Dáil were “incorrect”.

“I had an example this week in the Dáil where certain issues [were raised by Mr MacLochlainn] in relation to the fixed-point penalty system. A very dramatic statement but the facts are different,” she said.

“The facts are we have reformed the system. The facts are the DPP is making the decision in relation to every case involving a garda. That has happened this year. And there is nobody, there is no senior person with three... The allegations are incorrect. There is no evidence, he didn’t give it. He didn’t give it to me.”

Ms Fitzgerald said the system has been dramatically reformed.

“What I said, when I answered it in the Dáil, was that we have a new system in place, we have a judge looking at it at the end of the year,” she said.

“What we have is in every case where a garda who is driving their own private vehicle has penalty points written off is it is to go to the DPP for a decision. Now if it goes to the DPP and she says ‘no they are not being written off’ but we haven’t had an incident of that.

“But sometimes I, in the Dáil, I get very dramatised descriptions of what happened, under privilege, but of course when you go to check it out the facts can be quite different.”

Contacted by the Irish Examiner last night, Mr Mac Lochlainn repeated the allegation that a Garda superintendent had penalty points wiped from his licence while driving his own car in July.

He said the individual has had a number of other penalty points wiped from his personal car in recent years, naming the dates, and said in each case he has used the rarely stated section of the Road Traffic Act 2010 that officers are exempt from the penalties if they are using their personal car to respond to an emergency at the time.

Mr MacLochlainn declined to provide the information in his possession to Ms Fitzgerald or the Department of Justice this week, saying the Department has “profoundly failed” to examine similar issues in the past.

The Donegal North-East TD said he will go directly to the Garda inspectorate on Tuesday to provide the information to the organisation and ask it to begin its own investigation — a move it can make without the department’s authorisation in certain circumstances.

While the penalty points saga caused a political crisis last year, the Coalition has insisted independent investigations have fully resolved the controversy.

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