Varadkar looks toward individual responsibility after criticising GRA
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.
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.