A Garda checkpoint
On RTÉ’s This Week.
Justin McCarthy spoke to a female civilian who was working in a garda station as a clerical officer when she claims she saw a garda breathalysing himself.
Before playing the interview, listeners were told that that the woman has since made a complaint of bullying against the garda in question and three other members of the force working at that station.
The woman’s identity was protected in the interview.
Civilian: “I’ve been doing this job for the past 25 years, working as a civilian.”
Justin McCarthy: “Tell me what happened on the day that you say you saw a garda breathalysing himself.”
Civilian: “Yes, on the 24th of January, 2014, I was working in the garda station, as a clerical officer between 3pm and 4pm on that date. I walked into the public office. The garda in question was sitting at a desk. I noticed the garda had alcometer in his hand and was blowing, full force, into the alcometer.”
McCarthy: “And what happened then? Did you speak to the garda about what you saw?”
Civilian: “Yes, I also noticed that he had a bundle of tubes in the other hand and a blank form in front of him and I straight away questioned him as to what he was doing. His reply was that, ‘oh, I’m just making up some numbers’. He looked embarrassed and I thought I caught him on the hop.”
McCarthy: “When he said he was making up some numbers, what did you take that to mean?”
Civilian: “I straight away, automatically assumed that that meant that he was falsifying the data.”
McCarthy: “Did you challenge the garda about his reply to you?”
Civilian: “I did. I said, straight away to the guard, that what he was doing was morally and ethically wrong.”
McCarthy: “Did you speak to anybody at senior level in the garda station about what you’d seen?”
Civilian: “Yes, well, first of all I spoke to the sergeant about two days after their return on duty and told them what I had seen; they gave no reply, or asked no questions about that. I then reported the matter in July 2014 to the Superintendent in that area, along with more issues that I wanted to report.”
McCarthy: “And did you get any response? Did you know if any particular action was taken in relation to the concerns that you raised about the garda that you say was blowing into a breathalyser.”
Civilian: “I don’t know what actions they would have taken myself personally, about that.”
McCarthy: “Do you know if any disciplinary action was taken in respect of the garda that you saw breathalysing himself?”
Civilian: “I don’t know. I mean, I didn’t make a statement so I don’t know if they were able to investigate it or not.”
McCarthy: “When you say you didn’t make a statement, are you saying you made a complaint but that you weren’t asked to make a formal statement as part of any investigation into this incident?”
Civilian: “Well, I was asked if I wanted to but, on advice given, I opted not to.”
McCarthy: “Were there any other witnesses or did anybody else see this happening? Or do you have any independent way of verifying what you saw?”
Civilian: “No, there were no other witnesses, it was just what I saw myself and what he admitted to me.”
McCarthy: “And you took that to mean that the garda in question was deliberately falsifying, elevating breath test numbers by blowing into tubes himself?”
Civilian: “Yes, I do. It was my gut instinct. I used my gut instinct and I straight away assumed that that was what he was doing.”
McCarthy: “There are two ways, I suppose, that breath tests could be falsified. One is by recording incorrect data on the PULSE system and another way is by blowing into a breathalyser, if a member of the force were to blow into a breathalyser themselves, would there be any way of checking if a test had been faked if a garda were to blow into a breathalyser themselves?”
Civilian: “I don’t think so and this is the point I’m trying to get across here, is that my belief is that the figures given, the one and a half million, could be way worse because this method, if used, is totally undetectable. Everything looks perfect on paper. If you breathalyse yourself using the alcometer, the alcometer will tally perfectly with the return, meaning it’s uninvestigatable.”
Listen back in full here
Spokesman for the Garda Representative Association John O’Keeffe and RTE’s Paul Reynolds
Further to Paul Reynolds’s interview with spokesman for the Garda Representative Association John O’Keeffe on Thursday evening…
Ellen Coyne, in The Times Ireland edition, reported:
A spokesman for the Garda Representative Association has accused RTÉ News of “ridiculing” him and threatened to sue over the broadcasting of an interview with him about the breath test figures scandal.
John O’Keeffe has claimed there was an understanding that some of his answers would be edited or deleted before broadcast. He alleged that RTÉ released the interview in full because it was biased against the GRA and was trying to push its own agenda.
Last night [Friday] RTÉ stood by its actions and said it had fairly challenged the GRA on an issue of “major public and national interest”. It denied all the allegations made by Mr O’Keeffe.
…Mr O’Keeffe said that the reporter repeatedly asked him the same question, “a line he is of course entirely entitled to pursue”.
“However, on a number of occasions during this interview, we paused for retakes on my answers — this was fully understood by both Mr Reynolds and the cameraman and was indeed commented on by myself for the avoidance of any doubt.”
The GRA spokesman and press officer claimed it was “understood by all of us” that some answers would be deleted accordingly. He detailed his unhappiness that the entire “unedited ‘interview’ was included”.
This was something that was never broadcast by the RTÉ newsroom, he said. “All such interviews are always edited for television, unless there has clearly been no retakes.
“The only reason Mr Reynolds and/or RTÉ would have included a full, very clearly unedited interview on this one exceptional occasion was to hold me up to ridicule and contempt because Mr Reynolds and/or his editor did not agree with the GRA position as spoken by myself. This assertion is supported by Mr Reynolds’s behaviour and language earlier in the day.”
The suggestion that either Mr Reynolds or any RTÉ staff member involved in the interview were biased was dismissed by the broadcaster last night [Friday].
Previously: ‘They Falsified Them Under Pressure From Gardai’