Test scan­dal

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Cor­mac O’Ke­effe

Rank-and-file gar­daí have said the breath test scan­dal was “en­tirely” the fault of Garda man­age­ment and warned they would not be “scape­goated”. The Garda Rep­re­sen­ta­tive As­so­ci­a­tion (GRA), with some 10,500 mem­bers, said that a “cul­ture of com­pe­ti­tion” among se­nior of­fi­cers drove the prob­lem. In a strongly-worded state­ment, the GRA sent out a clear in­di­ca­tion that it would fight any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against mem­bers by lo­cal man­age­ment.

THOUGH it hasn’t been done yet, it can’t be too long more be­fore one Garda or­gan­i­sa­tion or another uses what might be called the Danny Healy-Rae de­fence. Re­mem­ber, just over a month ago and al­most 50 years af­ter man landed on the moon, the Kerry deputy sug­gested that the lit­tle peo­ple might be re­spon­si­ble for a re­cur­ring road prob­lem in the King­dom. Might they be re­spon­si­ble for in­flated drink driv­ing tests too?

That old re­li­able — sys­tems fail­ure — has al­ready been blamed, but yes­ter­day’s state­ment from the Garda Rep­re­sen­ta­tive As­so­ci­a­tion, in­sist­ing that they will not be “scape­goated”, sug­gests we may not have to wait too long more be­fore we hear the Healy-Rae de­fence. The GRA may well be right to iden­tify a “cul­ture of com­pe­ti­tion among se­nior ranks to im­prove their pro­mo­tion chances”, but it stretches pub­lic cred­i­bil­ity be­yond break­ing point to sug­gest that front­line gar­daí were in­no­cent by­standers in this fi­asco.

Another piece of data point­ing to how badly man­aged, how deeply dys­func­tional our po­lice for is, came to light yes­ter­day through a par­lia­men­tary ques­tion. It ap­pears that 156 Garda sta­tions out 564 — more than a third— are not linked to the na­tional Garda net­work or the pulse sys­tem.

Just as well re­ally. If they were con­nected, the num­ber of fake drink driv­ing tests might well defy even the su­per-charged imag­i­na­tion of Deputy Healy-Rae.

What a danger­ous, dark­en­ing farce this has be­come.

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