Statement by Minister Alan Shatter on the Garda Inspectorate Report
On 14th May last, I referred to the Garda Inspectorate the O’Mahoney Report and the Garda Professional Standards Unit Report into the Fixed Charge Notice issue. I set out and provided to the Garda Inspectorate seven principles which I believed should inform the operation of the Fixed Charge Processing System:
1. There must be no question mark hanging over the integrity of the Fixed Charge Notice system and in the application of penalty points.
2. No individual should receive preferential treatment because of their perceived status, relationship or celebrity.
3. The law and any discretionary application of it to individuals must be administered fairly, with compassion and common sense.
4. No member of the Garda Force should feel compelled by a person’s position, relationship or celebrity status to treat that person any more or less favourably than any other person.
5. There must be proper oversight and transparency to the discretionary decision making process and the applicable rules and procedures must be fully complied with.
6. All statutory provisions, regulations, rules, protocols and procedures applicable to the termination of Fixed Charge Notices must be readily accessible to all members of the Garda Force and the circumstances, factors and procedures applicable to the termination of Fixed Charge Notices should be detailed clearly on the Garda website for the information of members of the public.
7. Where application is made to terminate a fixed ticket charge, where possible and appropriate, material to support any application made should be sought while understanding in some circumstances no such material may exist or be obtainable.
I have received and considered the very comprehensive report of the Garda Inspectorate which examines the totality of the Fixed Charge Notice System. I am pleased that the Inspectorate had regard to the seven principles detailed above.
The Inspectorate, in its recommendations, provides a roadmap to address the difficulties which have arisen and to ensure that An Garda Siochana will have a system which is transparent, fit for the 21st Century, and which will stand up to scrutiny. Measures to be taken will require the engagement and cooperation of An Garda Siochana; the Department of Justice and Equality; the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; the Road Safety Authority, the Courts Service; and An Post, and envisages the enactment of some important new legislative measures by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to amend the Road Traffic Acts.
I will bring the Report to Cabinet tomorrow and discuss the detail contained in it with my colleagues in Government. I will, thereafter, arrange for the Report to be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and to be published on the Department of Justice and Equality website.
11 March, 2014
The following Terms of Reference for the Garda Inspectorate’s review were agreed with the Inspectorate on 4th July 2013:
“In accordance with section 117 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, the Minister for Justice and Equality hereby requests the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to carry out a review of the operation of the fixed charge processing system by the Garda Síochána.
The Inspectorate is requested to take into account the recommendations listed in the report by Assistant Garda Commissioner John O’Mahoney into allegations of irregularities in the operation of the fixed charge processing system and the related report by the Garda Síochána Professional Standards Unit. The Minister further requests that the Inspectorate make any wider recommendations it considers desirable with a view to enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation by the Garda Síochána of the fixed charge processing system.
The Garda Síochána Inspectorate is requested to report to the Minister on this matter as a priority so that an improved process of cancellation of fixed charge notices can be implemented quickly.”