Garda chief fears false data 'not confined to traffic'

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan is under pressure over revelations about the police force

Irish police commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan is expected to tell a parliamentary committee on Thursday that her fear is that the falsification of data is not confined to traffic.

Her speech was circulated to committee members on Wednesday.

Last week, it emerged almost one million drink-driving tests recorded by police did not actually take place.

An Garda Síochána (Irish police) also admitted an error that caused almost 15,000 wrongful traffic convictions.

'Outrageous facts'

Commissioner O'Sullivan is to give evidence to the Oireachtas (parliamentary) Committee on Justice and Equality on Thursday.

She will face questions over revelations on fixed charge notices and breathalyser test figures.

At the weekend, Ms O'Sullivan said revelations over penalty points and breath test discrepancies are "unacceptable".

She said on Saturday that the police service was on a journey of radical reform and "it is inevitable that we will identify more examples of bad practice".

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin of Sinn Féin, who chairs the Justice and Equality Committee, said members wanted assurances "that there can be no repeat of these outrageous facts".

On Tuesday, the government announced it was planning two separate investigations.

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Enda Kenny announced an independent review of the overall operation of the force.

'Financial irregularities'

A second investigation will probe the wrongful convictions of almost 15,000 motorists, and apparent false data on breath tests.

Mr Kenny also said on Tuesday that the government continues to have confidence in Commissioner O'Sullivan.

She was already facing questions over her leadership because of allegations of a smear campaign against a whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Sgt McCabe was one of two officers who raised concerns years ago about the alleged deletion of penalty points from the driving licences of well-connected offenders.

Image caption Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Speaking during Leaders' Questions in the Dáil (parliament), Mr Kenny said of the independent review: "We continue to see a list of unacceptable revelations about the operation of An Garda Síochána.

"The government believes that the level of public concern is now so profound that it's now time to conduct a thorough, comprehensive and independent, root-and-branch review of An Garda Siochana."

Exact details of the independent review are to be outlined next week.

In the meantime, an external inquiry is being set up into the erroneous Garda statistics and prosecutions.

Separately, An Garda Síochána is to publish a report on financial irregularities at its training college.

The force's internal audit section examined financial transactions over a number of years at the college in Templemore, County Tipperary.

Its report revealed that money was being spent on gifts and entertainment, and identified a non-transparent system of accounting.

Commissioner O'Sullivan said that while the accounting practices would not be acceptable by today's standards, there was no misappropriation of money or misuse of public funds.

Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil on Tuesday that the report raises serious governance issues and will be referred to the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee.

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