Report finds there could be additional 400,000 false breath tests

The Policing Authority says it cannot guarantee issues related to breath tests would not happen again

Report finds there could be additional 400,000 false breath tests

Policing Authority Mandatory Intoxicant Testing Issues. L TO R. Chief Executive Helen Hall with Chairperson Josephine Feehily and Partner in Crowe Horwath Shane McQuillian. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated 17.50

The Policing Authority says it cannot reassure the public that issues with false breath tests and fixed charged notices would not happen again.

A new external report carried out for the Policing Authority has found there could be an additional 400,000 false breath tests on top of the almost 1.5 million already discovered.

The report by accountancy firm Crowe Horwath found it is likely there is a 'significantly greater' discrepancy than previously recorded - although noted that the exact scale of the issue may never be known.

The Policing Authority says that top Garda management is responsible for serious failures in governance and supervision that saw the breath test and fixed charge notice scandals go unchecked.

Chairwoman of the Policing Authority, Josephine Feehily, would not be drawn on whether she wanted to see disciplinary action.

However, she said she wanted a response from the acting Garda Commissioner this month.

She explained: "The Policing Authority is an oversight body. The Garda Commissioner is in charge of the Garda organisation, is responsible for the discipline of the organisation and the governance of that organisation.

"He deserves an opportunity to reflect on what we're saying here today. I want him to consider the points I'm making, and come to our meeting in November with a response."

'Unacceptable failures'

Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin said the force takes the findings of the report 'very seriously', acknowledging that it and an earlier report have uncovered 'unacceptable failures'.

He explained: "An Garda Síochána accepts the damage this has done to public confidence. We fully recognise the importance of public support and confidence in the delivery of an effective police service.

"That is why we are absolutely determined to ensure that such failings cannot happen again."

He confirmed that management will outline to the Policing Authority what is being done under a major reform programme, which he says will work to "ensure these appalling failures cannot re-occur".

Ahead of the publication of the new report, Fianna Fáil called for greater powers to be given to the Policing Authority.

The party's justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan argued: “Full public confidence in the processes and procedures around Garda oversight is a critical component of effective policing in Ireland.

“Unfortunately, the poor performance of senior management in An Garda Síochana remains at the fore of these repeated controversies."