Gardaí reacted with shock and fury after Garda Representative Association (GRA) spokesman John O’Keeffe told RTÉ News that senior officers put pressure on their junior counterparts to inflate breath test figures.
The assertion was repeated on several occasions during the interview, which is now the subject of a row between RTÉ and the GRA. But executive members say the assertion that Gardaí were put under duress was not agreed at last week’s meeting at GRA Headquarters in Phibsboro.
A number of branch representatives have formally demanded to know which members of the GRA’s officer board were involved in briefing Mr O’Keeffe prior to his interview with RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Reynolds. A number of branch representatives have now told the GRA officer board the claims about the duress are not shared by their members.
The board itself is led by general secretary Pat Ennis, president Ciarán O’Neill, vice president James Mulligan and interim deputy general secretary Robert Peelo.
During the interview, which aired on the ‘Six One’ news on Thursday night, Mr O’Keeffe claimed that the scandal of 1.5 million false breath test figures was fuelled by rank-and-file members being put under pressure by their bosses.
“Gardaí did not go out and falsify breath tests, they were put under pressure from both middle and senior management to do so,” he said.
Under robust questioning from Mr Reynolds, Mr O’Keeffe reiterated that members were put under duress by senior officers to ensure there were “high” and “elevated” breath test figures.
He added that if they did not have these high figures “there could be consequences”. “They were put under pressure to raise these figures and told they had to raise these figures.”
Mr O’Keeffe is understood to be taking legal advice over the matter. But the row has led to increased tensions among senior GRA figures.
Meanwhile, a Garda spokesperson last night urged members of the force with information relating to breath tests issues to bring it forward to Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan and the Policing Authority. The statement added: “This follows comments by some Garda personnel to the media in recent days on such issues.”