News

Garda commissioner faces three motions of no confidence over controversy

By Josh Cogley

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is under increasing pressure today as questions are posed as to how a million breath tests that never happened were recorded by Gardai.

The Commissioner now faces the possibility of three motions of no confidence.

Solidarity/People Before Profit are expected to file a motion today, following the lead of Sinn Féin and Labour. The government continues to stand by the embattled commissioner, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald both expressing confidence in her.

Fianna Fáil’s front bench TD’s have officially agreed that they have no confidence in the Commissioner. Justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan has said that the party will not be backing any motion of no confidence, and will await the Commissioner’s appearance before the Oireachtas before taking any further action.

Commissioner O’Sullivan will appear before the Oireachtas Justice Committee at 9am on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists today at Garda HQ, O’Sullivan failed to provide clear answers to many of the questions she faced. When repeatedly asked whether she would resign in the event of a no confidence vote, she repeatedly stated her desire to affect change in the force.

“I am absolutely committed to making sure that we continue to deliver on the transformation and the change and the reform agenda that we committed to government that we would do.”

The Commissioner refused to say whether the extra 1 million breath tests were a result of deliberate falsification or fraud, announcing that a three-month review will investigate the causes of the discrepancies. She also said that “the integrity of each individual member of An Garda Síochána is on the line.”

Speaking yesterday, Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn revealed that it would be impossible to pinpoint which Gardai falsified records for the breathalyser tests, as the procedure for recording the usage of the Drager breathalyser devices was extremely lax.

From 2011 until early 2016 Gardaí were not required to log breathalyser device numbers, or specific checkpoint locations along with the number of tests carried out.

The Medical Bureau of Road Safety twice reported their concerns over inconsistencies in the number of recorded breath tests to Gardaí, the first time in 2014. The Bureau, which restocks the mouthpieces for the devices to Garda stations around the country, noticed a difference between the amount of mouthpieces ordered for the Drager devices and the amount of tests recorded.

People Before Profit Councillor for Dublin South-West, Nicky Coules, expressed his disillusion with the current state of the Garda Síochana.

“I’m not surprised by these figures for the breathalyser tests, as Garda incompetence has been known in my area for a very long time. It has gotten to the stage that people in my locality don’t even report to the Guards anymore, because most times they don’t act on any reports,” he said.

Adding, “As for the Commissioner, she’s in charge of the whole force, so the buck stops with her. She has to step down immediately.”

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