Gardaí yet to establish if members entered fake breath test data

Noirín O'Sullivan appeared before the Dáil's Justice Committee for four hours today

Gardaí yet to establish if members entered fake breath test data

Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Garda Commissioner says she has yet to establish if Gardaí dishonestly entered fake breath test data into the Garda computer system.

Noirín O'Sullivan appeared before the Oireachtas Justice Committee for four hours today, but said so far they cannot say for certain what happened.

Gardaí discovered a massive discrepancy in their recorded number of breath tests, with almost a million extra tests recorded.

Separately, management also confirmed that between 2006 and 2016 there were 147,000 motor offences where a court summons was issued instead of a fine. 

14,700 of those cases resulted in a penalty being imposed by the courts.

A copy of Commissioner O'Sullivan's opening statement to the committee was leaked to the press yesterday ahead of the hearing.

In the statement, she said she fears the false figures in Garda traffic data may extend further into the force.

She apologised for the "grave mistakes" over the last two decades which she says were at worst deception, and at best incompetence.

She said: "Those mistakes and wrongdoings are unacceptable in policing terms, unacceptable in ethical terms, unacceptable in terms of public trust, and, most critically, unacceptable to the advocacy and support groups involved in road safety and to those who were wrongly brought to Court."

"The numbers do not match"

In terms of the most recent controversies, Commissioner O'Sullivan said: "It was individually and organisationally shameful, and will be seen to be shameful by the public and the thousands of Gardaí around the country who operate every day to the highest ethical standards."

The Commissioner told members of the committee that senior Gardaí are still trying to investigate the current issues. The Assistant Commissioner is leading the review to find out what happened.

Answering the questions of deputies, Commissioner O'Sullivan observed: "It may well be the case that the Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan will discover that individual members deliberately put figures into the system that were not correct figures.

"We haven't gotten to the bottom of exactly what," she said. "What we do know is that the numbers do not match."

While she said she has no specific information about wider falsification at the moment, she does not know 'what's coming down the tracks':

She promised to identify those responsible for the incorrect data and hold them accountable.

The revelations over the incorrect data and court appearances have resulted in a political firestorm, with some opposition groups calling for the Commissioner to step down.

Sinn Féin has already published a motion of no confidence in the Commissioner.

Fianna Fáil has said it cannot yet express confidence in the Commissioner, but indicated that their future position would depend on today's hearing.