Penalty-points evidence box 'very disturbing': PAC's McGuinness

Martin Callinan

By Mary Regan, Irish Examiner Deputy Political Editor

A box of evidence alleging widespread abuse of the penalty point system contains "very disturbing" information, according to the chairman of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) John McGuinness, who will hear evidence next week from the garda whistleblower who provided the dossier.

In one case, it outlines how a Garda member who was stopped for offences had points removed because it was claimed they were on duty at the time. However, the whistleblower established the person in question was on sick leave at the time.

Another example was given of a "senior person" who had penalty points struck off on the basis that they were travelling to court proceedings. The whistleblower discovered there were no court sittings that day.

"This is the type of information that is out there, and is circulating around the House," Mr McGuinness told the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, who is appearing before the committee today.

The chairman said he wanted to bring in the garda who made these allegations, and another whistleblower who has made similar claims in the past, "to have a man-to-man discussion in relation to what they see as their duty to report what they see as wrong-doing."

But Mr Callinan insisted it was "grossly unfair that this position is evolving" and that there were ample procedures within the force itself in which the whistleblowers could have raised their concerns.

Callinan said the emergence of allegations through an Oireachtas committee raised "serious issues" relating to the "direction and control" of the Garda Síochána.

He said he would take legal advice before the scheduled appearance of the whistleblowers before the committee next Thursday.

He said: " I cannnot, in all fairness, have a situation where members are coming in making very serious allegations of a criminal nature and using platforms such as this committee to air their greivances."

After the Irish Examiner reported in early November that the box of evidence had been handed over to the committee, Mr Callinan wrote to Mr McGuinness, demanding the return of the documents "forthwith."

He told the committee today that he is still of the view that the committee's possession of the information is in breach of data protection laws.

But Mr McGuinness said the committee had got legal advice and the documentation in redacted form has been distrbuted to members. It will also be provided to Mr Callinan after today's meeting.

— Mary Regan, Deputy Political Editor,Irish Examiner

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