Varadkar calls for breath-test sanctions

Not enough gardaí have embraced need for change, says Taoiseach

SARAH BARDON Political Reporter Any members of the Garda involved in inflating checks for drink-drivers, including senior officers, should face action, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said yesterday.

The Taoiseach believed not enough members of the force accepted the Garda had to change.

“I’m not satisfied there’s been enough people within the gardaí who have embraced the need for change and reform,” Mr Varadkar said.

He said he had seen the remarks of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) which claimed senior gardaí, and not its rank-and-file members, were to blame for the inflating of alcohol breath tests.

Mr Varadkar took a hard line when asked what should be done about the Garda members who entered 1½ million breath tests on the force’s official enforcement records.

“I do believe there should be individual accountability, you know, for anyone who was involved in falsifying breath tests.

“And not just at the level of individual rank-and-file gardaí, but of course if there were people at management level who were demanding this of people who report to them.”

Chief superintendents have already been asked to examine the source of the inflating in divisions around the State.

However, the Garda has said that, before any further actions were taken, reports on the inflating of the breath tests being prepared for the Policing Authority needed to be publishedConsultants Crowe Horwath are preparing two reports for the authority; one on the inflated breath tests and one on the wrongful conviction of about 15,000 motorists under the motoring fixed-charge notice system.

On Thursday after its two-day national executive meeting the GRA clashed with Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, the author of the recently published Garda report on the breath tests.

He said senior officers did not gain from the fact the levels of testing in their areas of responsibility were inflated. This was as much as 400 per cent in some places and for years.

But the GRA said the senior officers pressurised those working under them to inflate the figures. It also said the senior officers used the inflated level of testing to try and secure promotion.

Mr Varadkar said the association now seems to have rejected the conclusions of the O’Sullivan report. “I have to say I am disappointed with them,” he added.

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