LABOUR PARTY TABLES MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE IN GARDA MANAGEMENT

Issued 28 March 2017

The Parliamentary Labour Party has today agreed a motion proposed by Party Leader Brendan Howlin, which expresses no confidence in Garda management, and calls for changes to the remit of the Policing Authority to allow that body to publish a reform programme based on the Garda Inspectorate recommendations and to direct Garda management to implement that programme.

The Labour Party is circulating this motion to other opposition parties and groupings, to attempt to reach a cross-party consensus on this urgent matter, with a view to having it debated in Dáil Éireann next week.

The full text of the motion reads:

That Dáil Éireann:

- Disturbed at the news that from the start of 2006 until the 27th May 2016 a total of 146,865 District Court summonses for road traffic fixed charge offences were wrongly issued, in circumstances where either the person prosecuted had already paid the fixed charge or where a fixed charge notice had not been issued, that 14,700 of those cases resulted in a conviction and penalty being wrongfully imposed by the courts and that each of these cases must now be brought back to court so that the convictions can be set aside,

- Further disturbed at the revelation that the issue in relation to fixed charge notices had been identified within the Garda Síochána as far back at early 2016 but only became public this year after a series of newspaper reports,

- Profoundly shocked at the additional disclosure that the Garda Síochána can no longer stand over its data relating to roadside breath tests and has withdrawn the figures because they are irreconcilable with data provided by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety from its breath test device database,

- Bearing in mind that mandatory alcohol testing has been a key feature of road safety strategy since 2007 and that determining the incidence of drink driving using data collected at the point of enforcement has been a specific target of that strategy for 10 years,

- Considering that the scale of the discrepancy, between Garda Pulse records showing 1,995,369 breath tests and MBRS records showing 1,058,157 tests, gives rise to the most serious issues about Garda commitment to the statutory national road safety strategy,

- Agreeing with the conclusions of the chief executive of the Road Safety Authority that “the absence of credible and reliable enforcement metrics such as the numbers of drivers being breath tested, makes it almost impossible to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of road safety interventions”,

- Dissatisfied at the inability of Garda administration to provide any explanation, adequate or otherwise, for these failures in the performance of their statutory functions,

- Taking into consideration that these revelations are merely the latest in a series of controversies that have cumulatively undermined public confidence in the ability and credibility of Garda management and in particular its ability to respond effectively to the modernisation agenda being championed by the Garda Inspectorate, which has described “an ineffective structure, struggling to cope with modern demands”, has characterised the current Garda culture as inhibiting change and has expressed frustration that so many of the Inspectorate’s key recommendations have not been acted on,

Affirms its opinion that these failures amount to a breach of the statutory obligations of the Garda Síochána, in co-operation with other bodies, to provide policing services –

- with the objective of vindicating human rights, preventing crime, bringing criminals to justice and regulating and controlling road traffic and improving road safety, and

- in a manner that respects human rights and supports the proper and effective administration of justice,

Declares it has as a result no confidence in the management of An Garda Síochána,

Calls on the Government to take whatever steps necessary to rectify this real and substantial crisis in public confidence, and

Calls on the Minister for Justice and Equality to prepare amendments to the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015, to vest the Garda Authority with the statutory power to publish a radical reform programme based on the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate and to have the statutory power to make directions to Garda management in the implementation of this programme.