Varad­kar looks to­ward in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity af­ter crit­i­cis­ing GRA

Irish Examiner - - News - Fi­achra Ó Cion­naith

Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar has crit­i­cised front­line gar­daí for re­ject­ing the “spe­cific find­ings” of the false breatht­ests in­ves­ti­ga­tion and at­tempt­ing to wash their hands of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the af­fair.

Mr Varad­kar said it was un­ac­cept­able that the Garda Rep­re­sen­ta­tive As­so­ci­a­tion had at­tempted to claim man­age­ment, and not its own mem­bers, were re­spon­si­ble for the fake tests, in­sist­ing that “in­di­vid­ual ac­count­abil­ity” must take place.

On Thurs­day, GRA spokesman John O’Ke­effe de­nied that front­line gar­daí were re­spon­si­ble for the lat­est scan­dal to hit the force, say­ing they were not to blame for the fake breath tests.

A Garda re­port into the scan­dal found of­fi­cers across the coun­try took part in wide­spread and re­peated fal­si­fi­ca­tion of records.

How­ever, Mr O’Keefe told RTÉ that Garda man­age­ment is en­tirely at fault.

“The de­fence is one of duress. They were un­der duress from mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment. They were or­dered to el­e­vate these fig­ures and im­plicit in this threat is that if they did not that there would be im­pli­ca­tions for their work­ing life,” he said.

Asked about the comment at the fi­nal day of the Fine Gael pre-Dáil think-in at Ho­tel Minella in Clon­mel, Co Tip­per­ary, Mr Varad­kar said the claim was un­ac­cept­able.

He said in­di­vid­ual of­fi­cers must not be al­lowed to wash their hands of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the af­fair.

“I have to say I am dis­ap­pointed with them. They do seem to have re­jected the spe­cific find­ings of the re­port, and you know, there is ev­i­dence in the O’Sul­li­van re­port to back up the view that gar­daí did fal­sify the num­ber of breath tests done,” said Mr Varad­kar.

“If I was a garda to­day I wouldn’t be happy with the ap­proach the GRA is tak­ing on this.”

Asked if he is in favour of in­di­vid­ual gar­daí who filed false breath tests to be dis­ci­plined, Mr Varad­kar said: “I do be­lieve there should be in­di­vid­ual ac­count­abil­ity for any­one who was in­volved.”

Mr Varad­kar also con­firmed the Gov­ern­ment will amend the Strate­gic In­fra­struc­ture Act to en­sure the plan­ning process works “more smoothly” for data cen­tres.

The move is in re­sponse to con­cerns this week that Ap­ple would move its data cen­tre from Athenry, Co Gal­way, a sit­u­a­tion which would put a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of jobs in jeop­ardy.

Mr Varad­kar also de­nied that his an­nounce­ment to po­ten­tially use Nama to help build so­cial hous­ing — a claim he made on Thurs­day dur­ing an off-script mo­ment in his key­note think-in speech — was made up with­out any de­tailed plan­ning.

He said the move, to be de­cided on by the Gov­ern­ment be­fore the bud­get, “is some­thing that has been un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for quite some time, a cou­ple of months”, and was first sug­gested to him by for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Michael Noo­nan.

Pic­tures: Brian Law­less

Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at Ho­tel Minella, Clon­mel, Co Tip­per­ary, where the Fine Gael think-in was tak­ing place ahead of the re­sump­tion of the Dáil next week.

Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar greets new­ly­weds Ian and Eleanor Walsh as they ar­rive at Ho­tel Minella.

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