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.