Leo Varadkar insists there must be 'individual accountability' for false breath tests

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has heavily criticised frontline gardai for rejecting the "specific findings" of the false breath tests investigation and attempting to wash their hands of responsibility for the affair, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Mr Varadkar said it was unacceptable the Garda Representatives Association has attempted to claim management and not its own members were responsible for the fake tests, insisting "individual accountability" must take place.

On Thursday, GRA civilian spokesperson John O'Keefe denied frontline gardai are responsible for the latest scandal to hit the force, saying they were not to blame for the fake breath tests crisis.

Despite the fact a detailed garda report into what happened has found officers across the country took part in widespread and repeated falsification of records, Mr O'Keefe told RTE News management is entirely at fault.

"They did not falsify the figures that means that the blame singularly goes on them. There is no blame on the ordinary male or female garda on the street. The blame is on the people who insisted these figures be elevated.

"The defence is one of duress. They were under duress from middle and senior management. They were ordered to elevate these figures and implicit in this threat is that if they did not that there would be implications for their working life," he said.

Asked about the comment at the final day of the Fine Gael pre-Dáil think-in at the Hotel Minella in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, Mr Varadkar said the claim is unacceptable.

Heavily criticising the GRA for rejecting the "specific findings" of the fake breath tests investigation, the Taoiseach said individual officers must not be allowed to wash their hands of responsibility for the affair.

"I have to say I am disappointed with them. They do seem to have rejected the specific findings of the report, and you know there is evidence in the O'Sullivan report to back up the view that gardai did falsify the number of breath tests done.

"If I was a garda today I wouldn't be happy with the approach the GRA is taking on this," he said.

Asked if he is in favour of individual gardai who filed false breath tests to be disciplined, Mr Varadkar added:

"I do believe there should be individual accountability for anyone who was involved."

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