Belfast Telegraph

An Garda Siochana review will be thorough, Enda Kenny pledges

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has promised a "thorough, independent and comprehensive" review of An Garda Siochana following a welter of scandals in the force.

Amid the latest controversies - the gross exaggeration of drink-driving statistics and thousands of drivers being wrongly prosecuted for motoring offences - Mr Kenny warned policing will be put through a "root-and-branch" examination.

In a statement, the Government said the recent revelations were so unacceptable and public concerns were so profound that it was opening talks with the opposition on how it would carry out the review.

"I'm very unhappy about this situation," Mr Kenny said.

Last week an audit revealed almost one million fewer drink-driving breath tests were carried out from 2012 to 2016 than gardai had claimed.

The Garda also admitted 146,000 people were taken to court and 14,700 people were wrongly convicted of motoring offences because of issues with the fixed penalty system.

One of the force's official watchdogs, the Policing Authority, said the discrepancies raised widespread concern about how gardai go about their work on a daily basis.

It said it was not just a statistical matter but "an ethical one".

The Taoiseach said Government has confidence in embattled Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan despite damning criticism over the failure to explain clearly how the gross exaggeration of data and mistakes on the fixed charge penalty system happened.

He said the issues were causing serious concerns.

"We continue to see a list of unacceptable revelations about the operation of An Garda Siochana," Mr Kenny said.

"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."

Mr Kenny told the Dail the exact detail of the review of the force will be decided by the Government next week.

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

Fianna Fail said it cannot express confidence in the commissioner following the latest scandal but called for the Government to reveal when the Garda notified the Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Party leader Micheal Martin said: "The public are genuinely shocked by the revelations of last week."

The Garda Commissioner has been called before the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Thursday over the affair and she is also due to meet the chairwoman of the Policing Authority Josephine Feehily over her handling and the force's handling of the scandal before the end of the week.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the bogus statistics showed the scandal was endemic and claimed there was a " rotten management culture" in the force.

"Anyone who thinks the dysfunctional culture in An Garda Siochana wi ll change while the current commissioner remains is, frankly, living in cloud cuckoo land.

"The game is up. This is an absolute mess."

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