Friday, 24 January 2014

Penalty Points and the Garda Commissioner

Whistleblowers are one of the most valuable human assets of a decent State.

Two whistleblowers are at present making the news in Ireland.  One is an ex-Garda the other is still serving as a member of the Garda.

Both blew the whistle on serious alleged corruption with regard to the wiping out of penalty points for important people by the Garda Síochána or members of that force.

One would expect that the Garda authorities would be glad to have corrupt Gardaí uncovered for the  sake of the country and for the sake of their more upright colleagues within the force.

But the Garda authorities are not happy.  Head honcho, Commissioner Martin Callanan, is not happy. He is so unhappy that he stooped to misrepresenting what had happened. He said that there is a method for making complaints within the Garda force.

 He did not say that the two whistleblowers had used this internal Garda complaint system.  It was because they had used it and had been ignored that they eventually decided their only way to uncover the scandal was to bring it to the attention  of Clare Daly TD an upright and honest politician.  She made it known to the Dáil.

Very shortly after doing this, Clare Daly was arrested by Gardaí, handcuffed and brought to a Garda station where her breathalyser test proved negative.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Callinan blocked the two whistleblowers from appearing before an Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee to be questioned on their allegations by Committee members.

He has threatened court action to prevent them from being heard.  He has asked advice from the Attorney General.

He himself got a hearing before the same Committee yesterday.  He used the opportunity to describe the action of the two whistleblowers as "disgusting". They were not present to answer him.

He said he feared that both he and the whistleblowers would be in breach of  the Data Protection Act

New evidence has now been handed to the Committee.  It alleges, according to media reports, that more than 200 senior Garda officers inappropriately - and in most cases corruptly - wiped penalty points from driving licences.

And John McGuinness, Committee chairman, said the Committee had taken its own legal advice, and was assured the evidence - now redacted - was fully compliant with the Data Protection Act.

Meanwhile one whistleblower John Wilson has resigned from the force.  He found a dead rat tied to his front door one evening.  The other whistleblower is still in the force.

"Having been treated the way I was for reporting the above. I don't think that I would do it again," he wrote to the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee.

"It destroyed me, my career and my family."


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