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.”