From top: Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan leaving the Justice Committeee hearing yesterday; Deputy Commissioner Dónall O’Cualáin, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality yesterday
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan appeared before the Oireachtas justice committee yesterday to field questions on the near one million phantom breath tests and 14,700 wrongful motoring convictions.
Further to this…
A timeline of events…
2009: An Garda Síochána start recording Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT) checkpoints on PULSE.
May 15, 2013: A report by assistant commissioner John O’Mahoney into the quashing of penalty points by gardaí is published and finds there is no widespread quashing of penalty points.
October 1, 2013: The Comptroller and Auditor General, which was given information by Sgt Maurice McCabe, issues a report which finds one in five motorists avoided penalty points because their cases are not pursued. For 2011 and 2012 – the C&AG found approximately 2,900 cases were terminated for around 700 vehicles, with three or more cases terminated each.
March 26, 2014: Justice Minister Alan Shatter apologises to Sgt Maurice McCabe and former garda John Wilson for telling the Dáil in October 1, 2013 that the two whistleblowers didn’t cooperate with Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney’s report into the quashing of penalty points.
April 11, 2014: Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar writes to the acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan about information that was sent anonymously to Gay Byrne, chair of the Road Safety Authority. The information, allegedly from a Garda reserve, contains allegations concerning the way in which MAT checkpoints are being carried out in the west of Ireland. The information also contains allegations that road traffic legislation is not being enforced.
April 24, 2014: An Garda Síochana are made aware of discrepancies in breath test figures. On the same day, Assistant Commissioner of the Western Region Dónal Ó Cualáin submitted a report in respect of road traffic enforcement in the western region. Mr Ó Cualáin advises that the issues raised will be placed on the agenda for the Garda’s next Regional Performance and Accountability Framework meeting.
May 2014: In a letter to the Department of Justice, An Garda Síochána states that it has looked into the claims regarding MAT checkpoints and is satisfied that correct procedures were in place for MAT checkpoints that did take place. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald tells this to the Dáil on March 28, 2017.
May 8, 2014: Garda Nick Keogh, a member of the drugs squad in Athlone, makes a formal complaint to the confidential recipient Judge Pat McMahon about a garda in the drugs squad and their alleged involvement in the supply of heroin in Westmeath, Offaly and Longford. Garda Keogh also claims a State mobile phone was supplied by a senior garda to a suspended garda whom Garda Keogh alleges has links to drugs trade in Co Westmeath.
On the same day, Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan speaks about Garda Nick Keogh in the Dail, saying:
“At this time, Garda Nicky Keogh – that is his name and he is proud of it – from Athlone Garda Station is presenting information to the confidential recipient, Mr. Justice Patrick McMahon. Given the gaping hole that there is in legislation in this country, which means the avenue of the Ombudsman commission is cut off, he has no option but to go to the confidential recipient. He has been left with no choice but to go public because since last week when the man voted by this Government to be Taoiseach laughed at what he brought to me the word at his local Garda station is that he is a whistleblower or, to use a word being used by many people, a snitch.
“His allegations are serious, including a cover up of an original file which was stolen, with the original incident being removed from the PULSE system; the creation of new statements and appearance of new original information; non-compliance by the Garda with the court order for disclosure and at least one of the accused being threatened by a garda to plead guilty on the day of the court case.”
“[Garda Nick Keogh]’s greatest concern with the drugs operation in November 2009 is that there was a systematic and orchestrated effort by high-ranking Garda officers to induce and coerce citizens, in this case citizens with no previous criminal conviction, to buy drugs from drug dealers, putting them in personal danger, and sell the drugs in turn to undercover gardaí without making any profit, thus boosting crime detection figures concerning arrests, charges and convictions. The result of this operation was that these mostly young citizens of the State, who had no previous drug convictions, now have serious drug convictions.”
“Finally, a further aspect of grave concern regarding the planning of this operation was that the list of persons nominated to be targeted had a notable omission in that a significant and well recognised drug dealer in the area who has long been associated with a senior member of the drugs unit was excluded.”
May 12, 2014: A report about the issues raised in relation to MAT checkpoints is submitted to the Department of Justice and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar is informed of this.
July 2014: The Medical Bureau of Road Safety, which orders the mouthpieces for Garda breathalyser devices, writes to An Garda Siochana to raise concerns about breath tests. They notice that the number of tests the gardai claim to have carried out – figures which are published on the An Garda Siochana website – don’t match the number of mouthpieces the MBRS has supplied to the gardai. Professor Denis Cusack, of the MBRS, told Today with Sean O’Rourke in March 2017 that the MBRS wrote to the gardai in July 2014 to say the figures didn’t add up.
Mr Cusack says the gardai responded to say they don’t need the MBRS to order anymore mouthpieces.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan later tells the justice committee, on March 30, 2017, that she was aware of this letter from the MBRS at this time.
August 22, 2014: The Garda National Traffic Bureau (GNTB) receives correspondence from the MBRS about the purchasing of equipment for the Drager breath-testing devices.
November 11, 2014: Following a two-year examination, the Garda Inspectorate Report on Crime Investigation is published and highlights concerns about the reclassification of crimes. The report found in 83 per cent of 12,506 reclassifications the crimes were downgraded to a lesser crime, while 71 per cent of 25,000 reclassified crimes examined were found to be incorrect and 13 per cent correct.
In addition, the Garda Inspectorate Report found the gardai had a detection rate of 26 per cent, as opposed to the 46 per cent claimed by An Garda Siochana.
November 26, 2014: In the Dail, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace says:
“Six months ago, a whistleblower from Athlone, Nicky Keogh, was mentioned in this House. He presented indisputable evidence of Garda involvement in serious criminal activity related to drugs. Six months on, there has been no information forthcoming. Meanwhile, the garda who made the complaint has been subjected to constant weekly harassment by senior management in Mullingar, manufacturing complaints against him, monitoring everything he does and making constant demands for his source of intelligence. This has all been on her watch. The blue wall of silence has not gone away.”
November 27, 2014: In the Dail, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly says:
“I want to emphasise the point made by Deputy Wallace yesterday about the Garda whistleblower, Nicky Keogh in Athlone. This serving garda made factual, detailed and indisputable allegations of Garda involvement in serious criminal activity involving the heroin trade and entrapment, setting people up in terms of drug dealing. That happened eight months ago. The Garda is conducting an internal investigation which Nicky Keogh has been told is progressing well but nothing else has been said about it. What does somebody like that feel when the acting Garda Commissioner, who said that whistleblowers would be protected inside her force, is appointed Garda Commissioner although his information entered the public domain on her watch? Since then he has been subjected to weekly harassment by senior gardaí who have sought to manufacture complaints against him, unsuccessfully, who monitor everything he does and have been involved in a systematic campaign to undermine him.”
December 8, 2014: The failure to have an NCT certificate becomes a fixed charge offence. From this date no summons should be issued for failing to have an NCT certificate unless the driver had firstly been issued with a fixed charge notice (FCN) but did not pay it.
January 8, 2015: Following correspondence from Leo Varadkar, who is now the Minister for Health, a further report is issued to the Department of Justice, advising that all Garda reserves in the Western Region had been spoken to and it was not possible to identify the author of the anonymous correspondence to the Road Safety Authority and that it was not possible to progress the matter.
March 7, 2015: Assistant Commissioner, and head of traffic, John Twomey issues an instruction to all divisional and district officers to, according to the guards, “ensure mechanisms are put in place to monitor the operation of MAT checkpoints within their respective divisions and districts”.
May 16, 2015: Garda Nicky Keogh writes a letter to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald about harassment he says he and Garda Keith Harrison are suffering at the hands of other gardai.
June 2015: Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan appoints an assistant commissioner to carry out an investigation into the allegation surrounding a chief superintendent and a drugs squad garda in Athlone. The assistant commissioner was earlier accused of leaking information back to the super who was the subject of the complaint. Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly makes this claim in the Dail in January 2017.
July 20, 2015: Assistant Commissioner Twomey directed Superintendent Brennan, of the Garda National Traffic Bureau, to chair a working group to examine the recording of equipment and data on PULSE in relation to traffic matters.
August 2015: The Medical Bureau of Road Safety carries out a survey of 200 of 1,200 breathalyser devices and finds that for those 200 devices, around 200,000 breath tests were done, as opposed to 400,000-plus tests claimed by An Garda Siochana on its website.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan tells the justice committee, on March 30, 2017, that she wasn’t aware of this MBRS survey at this time.
August/September 2015: Staff at MBRS notifies An Garda Siochana, via the staff working with Assistant Commissioner John Twomey, of the discrepancy that they found in their survey of 200 devices.
October 2, 2015: Garda Keogh makes a protected disclosure to GSOC regarding the manner in which An Garda Siochana is carrying out an investigation into the alleged involvement of a Garda into heroin dealing. Garda Keogh alleges that there appears to be a cover up.
December 2015: Garda Keogh is forced to join Garda Harrison on long-term sick leave, due to work-related stress from alleged harassment by Garda management.
November 11, 2015: The working group gives a report to Assistant Commissioner John Twomey regarding the audit carried out in the Southern Region in relation to breath tests performed between 2009 and 2014. The audit identifies a discrepancy of 17% between the number of breath tests recorded on PULSE as having been conducted by guards and the number of breath tests recorded on the breath-testing devices.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan later told the justice committee, on March 30, 2017, that she was aware of discrepancies in one region and that a national audit was to be carried out.
December 15, 2015: During a Dáil debate, in the presence of the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, on the Garda Síochána Bill 2015, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly says:
“The previous Garda Inspectorate’s report gave a damning account of gardaí massaging the crime figures, for example. That resulted in the analysis of crime figures having to be withdrawn for a period. It is a very serious matter.”
“We know for a fact that the massaging of the figures is still continuing. In recent weeks, in Superintendent Pat Murray’s station in the midlands and in Athlone, we have seen direct evidence of at least eight cases where crimes were written down so that the original crime was reclassified as a more minor matter. There is clear evidence of massaging the figures – for example, changing burglaries to criminal damage, which is reclassification.”
In addition, during the same debate, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace said:
“First, the Minister asked for proof of what Deputy Daly actually said. Tomorrow morning, I will give the Minister proof of district officer, Superintendent Pat Murray, reclassifying crime figures. This is an individual who has harassed and bullied a Garda whistleblower to an awful degree for a long time.”
January 1, 2016: The Policing Authority is formed.
February 6, 2016: A garda contacted the Garda call centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo – Garda Information Services Centre (GISC) – to highlight there was issue regarding the issuing of summonses for NCT when it should have been a fine. GISC instructs their staff to cease creating summonses for the offence of not having a valid NCT certificate. An internal review begins at GISC.
February 9, 2016: GISC ceases creating summonses in respect of the offence of not having a valid NCT certificate.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, before the justice committee on March 30, 2017, said “Assistant Commissioner [Michael] Finn “last March” identified massive discrepancies between the recorded breath-tests on PULSE and the records held by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety.”
April 7, 2016: New instructions are issued to gardaí in relation to MAT checkpoints and the recording of data on PULSE. It’s the first time gardai recorded the serial number and counter readings of screening devices on PULSE to verify the number of breath tests performed.
When asked by Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly, during a meeting of the justice committee on March 30, 2017, why this practice of recording breath tests wasn’t implemented once concerns were first raised back in 2014, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said:
“We were trying to fully understand what was going on here, to make sure, that when we bring in something, that it works. This is not something that could come in overnight.”
April 26, 2016: A person appears before Carrick-on-Shannon District Court having previously been issued a summons for having no NCT Certificate. The person had already paid a FCN. The issue was brought to the attention of the GISC which, in turn, brought it to the attention of Garda IT.
An initial examination of records for the specific offence of ‘not having a valid NCT certificate’ identified 759 cases where a person had paid an FCN but was still subsequently summonsed to court. This examination was then expanded to include all fixed charge offences issued since the rollout of the FCPS system. This identified a total of 1,130 cases where summonses had been issued for offences where the FCN had already been paid.
A decision was made to conduct an extended review to establish if any other issues were arising in relation to the operation of the FCPS.
An examination of 830,687 summonses, issued between 1st January 2006 and 27th May 2016, identified a total of 146,865 summonses for persons who weren’t given an opportunity to pay an FCN.
In relation to 146,865 summonses, 14,700 cases resulted in a penalty being imposed by the courts.
May 16, 2016: A meeting is held at the Garda National Traffic Bureau (GNTB) in Garda Headquarters. A decision is taken to carry out a review of NCT offences and work begins to identify any summonses then before the courts. Instructions are issued for all such summonses to be withdrawn. A further instruction is also issued to have all cases, where no FCN had been issued, to have such cases withdrawn before the court.
May 17, 2016: In the Dáil, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly raises issues concerning the treatment of Garda whistleblowers with Ministser for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. She said:
“Eighteen times since the Tánaiste became Minister, Deputy Wallace and I have tabled the issue of Commissioner O’Sullivan’s treatment of the whistleblowers Mr. Keith Harrison and Mr. Nick Kehoe. The Tánaiste has done nothing. Will she launch a full investigation into the Commissioner’s actions in accordance with the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, under which she can investigate and remove the Commissioner for actions that discredit her office? Will she commission the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Office, GSOC, to launch an investigation? If not, why not?”
In addition, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace said:
“What the Commissioner says in public is different to what is happening on the ground. Mr. Keith Harrison and Mr. Nick Kehoe have been treated abysmally for two years. Both are out sick now. One gets less than €300 per week and the other gets nothing. Every effort has been made to hound them out of their jobs. It is two years since Mr. Harrison tried to get a proper hearing and he has only had one proper meeting with GSOC. GSOC requested Mr. Kehoe’s file after a poor internal Garda investigation. The Garda was given 30 days to deliver it but still has not done so.”
May 18, 2016: An instruction is issued to each Regional Assistant Commissioner in relation the governance of MAT checkpoints. Each Divisional Officer is now required to report the number of checkpoints, both scheduled and performed, and the reasons for any checkpoint being cancelled.
June 2, 2016: Assistant Commissioner, Traffic Michael Finn directs a national audit in respect of MAT checkpoints and a notice is put on Garda website, saying their garda breath-test figures are subject to review.
June 8, 2016: A report is given to the Department of Justice saying an issue had been identified in relation to breath test figures recorded by the gardai and that a national audit is to begin. It also states an audit of MAT checkpoints had been conducted and completed in relation to the Southern Region, which had raised concerns as to the reliability, veracity and authenticity of the data.
At a meeting of the justice committee on March 30, 2017, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said: “The review was unable to reconcile the PULSE data and our paper-based breath-test data, primarily due to significant gaps in our manually recorded breath-test data.”
June 10, 2016: The Secretary General at the Department of Justice Noel Waters is notified. On the same day, a press release is issued regarding the issue of NCT FCNs.
June 2016: The Road Safety Authority is told verbally that a national audit in respect of breath tests is to be carried out.
June 30, 2016: The issue of NCT FCNs is discussed with the Policing Authority.
July 2016: The national audit in relation to breath tests begins. Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn tells this to the justice committee on March 30, 2017.
July 1, 2016: The methodology for the national audit, covering January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2016, is provided to each divisional officer.
July 4, 2016: The advice of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in respect of the FCNs is sought.
July 12, 2016: The DPP advises that the matters outlined must be rectified and acknowledges that work on pre-2104 incidents was ongoing.
July 15, 2016: An IT solution is put in place to prevent summonses being incorrectly created.
October 2, 2016: John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reports:
An internal investigation into allegations of gardai collusion in heroin dealing in a midlands town has found evidence to substantiate claims made by a police whistleblower in 2014.
The inquiry has also established that a senior garda was warned about fears of corruption in the force by members of the drugs squad in 2009 but took no meaningful action.
The director of public prosecutions (DPP) recently advised Garda Headquarters that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those implicated, although they now face disciplinary proceedings.
According to security sources, the internal inquiry concluded that one garda was in a relationship with a female heroin dealer in the town, which resulted in him compromising planned searches and raids. One witness told investigators he was present when this garda alerted local criminals to a planned gardai search the following day, ensuring they had time to dispose of incriminating evidence, including mobile phones. The witness refused to make a statement under caution or agree to testify, however.
The investigation into the collusion claims was established after Nicky Keogh, a member of the drugs squad, used protected disclosure legislation to act as a whistleblower.
…Garda Headquarters has now suspended from duty the garda allegedly linked to heroin dealers, pending a disciplinary process. The force suspended the officer after the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) said it was launching an inquiry.
A more senior officer who allegedly failed to take appropriate action to ensure discipline was maintained remains in place. The garda commissioner could face questions over why she appointed this officer to a high-profile position in the force last year after he was the subject of three separate complaints from colleagues in 2014.
October 6, 2016: In the Dail, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace said:
“Nicky Keogh wrote to the Minister four times and she replied once. When he told the Minister about the harassment and that he could not have been suffering without the Commissioner’s knowledge, the Minister wrote back to him to say she was looking for an urgent report from the Garda Commissioner. That was May this year. The Minister says she follows things up quickly. May was a long time ago. For over two years Deputy Clare Daly and I have been telling the Minister about huge problems that are not being addressed. It is over two years. How in God’s name can the Minister say she is dealing with these matters?
October 30, 2016: John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reports:
“An internal garda investigation is understood to have found evidence to substantiate many of the claims made by Keogh in 2014. The garda inquiry established that a senior officer was warned about fears of corruption in the force by members of the drugs squad in 2009 and appears not to have taken meaningful action. O’Sullivan has not suspended the garda, though he is facing disciplinary proceedings.”
Broadsheet understands no report on this internal investigation has been published to date.
November 2, 2016: A revised directive is issued in relation to procedures to be followed in respect of the recording of MAT checkpoint data on PULSE.
November 7, 2016: The DPP formally advises An Garda Siochana in relation to the identified convictions and also advises a review of data 2006 – 2013 should be conducted.
December 4, 2016: An IT upgrade to the PULSE System creates a number of new data fields, including the recording of data in respect of screening devices and the counter readings before and after a MAT checkpoint.
January, 2017: GSOC requests to oversee the disciplinary investigation of a senior garda and drugs squad garda in Athlone, pertaining to Nick Keogh’s allegations. Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan refuses GSOC’s request.
January 2017: The Policing Authority starts to seek answers and challenge An Garda Síochána in relation to discrepancies in road side breath test but it is not told, at this time, that a national audit is under way. (The authority states this in a statement issued on March 23, 2017).
In relation to the Policing Authority not being notified, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan told the justice committee on March 30, 2017, that “it was a complete oversight”.
February 2, 2017: In the Dail, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly said:
“A number of the whistleblower cases in question are in the public domain, but others whose cases are with GSOC – in the instance of Keith Harrison, for more than two years – have had relatively limited meaningful engagement with GSOC because of delays with documentation and so on. In Nicky Keogh’s case, the GSOC investigation has practically concluded and disciplinary recommendations have been made, but the Garda has not agreed to GSOC’s involvement.”
February 14, 2017: The national audit of breath tests is extended to cover July 1, 2016 to the December 31, 2016.
At some point in February, the Department of Justice is told by gardai that the audit is expected to be finished by the “second quarter” of 2017, according to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
February 17, 2017: In the Dáil, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly said:
“At the heart of the allegations of Dave Taylor and Maurice McCabe is that there was a deliberate targeting and undermining of a whistleblower with the full knowledge of the Commissioner in flagrant breach of protected disclosures policy. While Maurice McCabe’s experience was the worst example, it is not unique and the situation facing Keith Harrison and Nick Kehoe is exactly the same. It involves many of the same personnel. The allegations being made are not new. When we had discussions earlier with the Tánaiste, concerns were raised that if these were introduced, the inquiry would be too broad and that, in any event, the matters in question are already being investigated elsewhere. That is not the case. I am not talking about the content of their protected disclosures but rather the harassment and targeting they have received since making the disclosure and which went on with the knowledge of the Commissioner.
“The disclosure of Nick Kehoe, who has been vindicated, concerned Garda involvement in the drugs trade. It was very serious and this man’s life has been ruined. His claims of harassment are not being investigated anywhere. If these people are excluded, the systemic problems under the Commissioner will not be addressed and we will be back here sooner than the Taoiseach thinks.”
February 20, 2017: David Labanyi, in The Irish Times, reports that a national audit into breath tests is under way following the discrepancies found between the MBRS and PULSE figures.
Mr Labanyi also reported:
“Separately, The Irish Times is aware of alleged incidents where it has been claimed a garda breathtested themselves before uploading the results to Pulse as allegedly the outcome of a MAT checkpoint.”
“In one such case a witness told this newspaper they observed a garda breathtest themselves multiple times in a Garda station before uploading that information on to Pulse as the supposed outcome of a checkpoint, with “no detections” recorded.”
“This person has brought their concerns to the attention of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Department of Transport but has not yet made a protected disclosure or a formal complaint.”
February 24, 2017: The Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) sends the gardai a sample of data available in respect of breath tests.
During the justice committee meeting of March 30, 2017, Fianna Fail justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan asked Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn when the gardai first contacted the MBRS for information in 2017, and if it was after February 20 – the date of The Irish Times article. Mr Finn said it was days before February 24 but he couldn’t say if it was four or less days.
February 28, 2017: A meeting is held between Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn and the MBRS to identify if any additional data from the MBRS would be of assistance in respect of the national audit being conducted.
March 8, 2017: Gardai sends a formal request to the MBRS seeking additional data from the bureau.
March 9, 2017: An update report is provided to the Department of Justice. On the same day, a report on the issue is provided to the Policing Authority.
March 10, 2017: Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn receives data from the MBRS about the recorded use of breath-testing devices between November 1, 2011 to October 31, 2016 on the basis of the information recorded on the devices issued. The MBRS’s information is that 1,058,157 tests were recorded for the period under review, which is 933,988 less than that recorded on PULSE.
The DPP advises that the FCN cases identified as having been dealt with before the courts and which have had a conviction recorded must be appealed to the Circuit Court.
March 20, 2017: Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn claims this is the day he becomes satisfied that “we had a significant problem here”. This is what he told the justice committee on March 30, 2017.
March 21, 2017: The matter of FCNs is raised with the Policing Authority and An Garda Siochana advises that a total of 146,865 summonses (between 2006 and 2016) have now been identified as having been issued incorrectly and that 14,700 court outcomes have to be addressed, by way of an appeals process to the Circuit Court.
An Garda Siochana also notify the Policing Authority of the discrepancy in breath test figures.
March 23, 2017: A Garda press conference is held to tell the public about the 14,700 wrongful convictions and the discrepancy in the breath test figures.
At the press conference, Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn says Superintendent Pat Murray from Athlone has been appointed to carry out the “fact finding” internal investigation into the matters.
March 24, 2017: A retired garda sergeant writes to the Policing Authority chairwoman Josephine Feehily to say that weeks before his retirement [date unknown] he reported to his district office to say breath test duties “needed to be reviewed as I was concerned that many scheduled checkpoints were not being done for various legitimate reasons but were still recorded on Pulse and used in data return figures although invalidated”.
He said: “The reply I got dismissed my concerns and criticised me… Garda management had issued instructions to record all checkpoints on PULSE even if not performed and then invalidate the PULSE incident record of unperformed checkpoints.”
And, in relation to An Garda Siochana earlier claiming on its website that 400,000 breath tests had been carried out: “The figures provinded were designed to mislead on road safety measures but most importantly protect individual managers from criticism which could affect their career development by non-performance in their relevant districts.”
March 29, 2017: A Broadsheet post draws attention to Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn previously stating that Superintendent Pat Murray, from Athlone, is carrying out a fact-finding internal investigation into the matters, and comments made previously about him in the Dáil in regards to the reclassification of figures and treatment of Garda whistleblowers.
March 30, 2017: Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan appears before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality. Deputy Commissioners Dónall O’Cualáin and John Twomey, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn also appear.
During the meeting, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace asks Ms O’Sullivan if Superintendent Pat Murray is involved in the internal Garda investigation into the breath tests and wrongful convictions.
Ms O’Sullivan says commissioner Michael O’Sullivan is in charge of the investigation but doesn’t say if Supt Murray is or isn’t involved.
Fianna Fail TD Jack Chamers asks Ms O’Sullivan if a bonus system paid to senior gardaí could have played a part in the exaggerated figures.
Mr Chambers said:
“I’m interested in that time period, from 2006 to 2009. In my view, there are a number of reasons why you could have had a cultural trigger. One would be an incentive. So, if we know, as a member of any organisation, if there’s an incentive to do better, perhaps to gain credit within the system in terms of promotions… Do you believe there is anyone, anywhere trying to manipulate data to drive potential promotional opportunities.”
“I also want to refer to the bonus-related payment system that was in place from 2006 up to 2010. We know that senior people in the civil service and the public service had bonuses based on particular outcomes that were driven by human resources, human resource management in the context of whatever system they were in. So we know, at Assistant Commissioner level up, there was a bonus system paid to members of the force.
“And I want to ask: what were the performance-related targets at that time when bonuses were paid? And could that have been the potential trigger for driving data upward?”
Ms O’Sullivan said she did not know the details of such a bonus system and agreed to come back to the committee on the matter.
Sinn Féin TD Pearse O’Doherty asked:
“It’s bizarre to me, the amount of controlled drugs that An Garda Siochana is currently holding. The latest figures that I got, from 2010 to 2014, show that of the €529million worth of controlled substances, only €35million has been destroyed….can you tell me, or reassure me the information that is being provided to me heretofore is accurate and that in the last five years, for example, the gardai do hold over half a billion euros worth of controlled substances?”
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said there has been a huge increase in the number of drug seizures in recent years and that is “indicative of work that is going on every day”.
She also said: “There is a process that has to be entered into, while cases are before the courts, that the exhibits need to be retained and that happens in drug cases as well as other cases.”
Sources: An Garda Siochana, kildarestreet.com, Oireachtas.ie, RTÉ, Sunday Times, Irish Examiner, Phoenix magazine, Sunday Independent, Sunday Business Post, Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Irish Daily Mirror and Irish Sun
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