Statement by Brendan Howlin on Garda controversy

Issued 27 March 2017

“During her press conference today, the Garda Commissioner said that no deliberate distortion of facts or falsification of figures had yet been established. This is, quite literally, incredible. Commissioner O’Sullivan’s position seems to be that almost a million mistakes might have happened over recent years.

“Exaggerated numbers of breath tests – almost a million of them – were recorded. Whether this happened deliberately or by mistake, somebody must accept responsibility for either position.

“Today, we also discovered from Deputy Commissioner John Twomey that a problem in relation to fixed charge notices was identified as far back at early 2016. Yet, this issue has only come to light this year after a series of reports in the Irish Times.

“What we have seen today is further evidence of a culture in An Garda Síochána where no responsibility is ever taken. The Commissioner has announced that her investigation will focus on Gardaí, on supervisors and on managers. But if responsibility for this saga is spread this widely across the organisation, then it must also lie at the top level of that organisation.

“It is beyond time now that we hear from the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality. We need to know now whether the reform agenda in an Garda Síochána is to have meaning. Will we, for example, now see the work to date of the Garda Inspectorate put into immediate operation?

“The silence of the Tánaiste over the last few days has been startling. Indeed, it is becoming clear that Government has yet to comprehend the enormous damage done to public confidence in policing in this country.”