‘The fal­si­fi­ca­tion came from mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment’

Irish Examiner - - News -

Garda Rep­re­sen­ta­tive As­so­ci­a­tion press of­fi­cer John O’Ke­effe in­ter­view with RTÉ crime cor­re­spon­dent Paul Reynolds.

>> JOK: “What we’re say­ing is the 1.4m fal­si­fied breath tests, the blame lies at the or­gan­i­sa­tion. It is an in­sti­tu­tional prob­lem.

It is not a spe­cific Garda prob­lem. Gar­daí did not go out and fal­sify breath tests. They were put un­der pres­sure from both mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment to do so. We know there was com­pe­ti­tion amongst the di­vi­sions, both in Dublin and around the coun­try, to raise these fig­ures. That was then passed down, from the apex of the or­gan­i­sa­tion to the or­di­nary guard, be they male or fe­male.

They were told they had to get these fig­ures up, but yet there was no bonus clearly in it for them, ob­vi­ously there is no fi­nan­cial bonus for a garda and there’s no pro­mo­tional bonus. The only rea­son that can be con­cluded is that they were pres­surised to do it and pres­surised they were.” PR: Did they fal­sify them or not? >> JOK: “They fal­si­fied them un­der pres­sure from gar­daí, the prob­lem was mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment put pres­sure on the mem­ber­ship of the GRA to have these high el­e­vated fig­ures. They were told that if they didn’t have them, at least it was im­plied to many of them, that, if they didn’t have these fig­ures, there could be con­se­quences. So, the rot starts at the top, it does not start at the bot­tom and if you want pub­lic af­fir­ma­tion of this every time we look at these pub­lic sur­veys, they’re al­ways quite good, they are 70, 80, 90% satisfaction rate with An Garda Síochána, the GRA, the or­di­nary fe­male guard, the male guard on the street. Where the dis­sat­is­fac­tion lies is with the mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment and these are the peo­ple putting the un­nec­es­sary pres­sure on or­di­nary garda.” PR: But, on the one hand, you said they did not fal­sify it and then, on the other hand, you said they did fal­sify it un­der pres­sure. So, which is it? >> JOK: “What I say was the fal­si­fi­ca­tion did not come from the or­di­nary GRA mem­ber: The fal­si­fi­ca­tion came from the top and the mid­dle. They were put un­der pres­sure to raise these fig­ures and told they had to raise these fig­ures.” PR: So they did fal­sify the fig­ures? >> JOK: “They did not fal­sify the fig­ures — that means the blame sin­gu­larly goes on them. There is no blame on the or­di­nary guard, male or fe­male, on the street. The blame is on the peo­ple who in­sisted that these fig­ures be el­e­vated — it’s as sim­ple as that. The de­fence is one of duress: They were un­der duress from the mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment to al­ter these fig­ures.” PR: But they did fal­sify and did al­ter these fig­ures? >> JOK: “They did not fal­sify these fig­ures. The fal­si­fi­ca­tion came from the pres­sure and the pres­sure came from mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment.” PR: But they were the ones who fal­si­fied it? >> JOK: “They knew if they didn’t go back with el­e­vated fig­ures, or didn’t change them on be­half of mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment, that there would be reper­cus­sions; they were told there would be reper­cus­sions. The or­di­nary guards on the street were told that if you do not give us the fig­ures we want, there will be reper­cus­sions for you. The pres­sure was on them and as a re­sult any ac­tion that is taken against a GRA mem­ber, the GRA will firmly stand be­hind each in­di­vid­ual to which that ac­cu­sa­tion is made, be­cause we know the rea­sons these fig­ures were el­e­vated was be­cause of the 18%, not the 82% of An Garda Síochána.” PR: Let’s just take it step by step: did they fal­sify the fig­ures. For­get about the pres­sure and the duress for the mo­ment. Did they fal­sify fig­ures: yes or no? >> JOK: “GRA mem­bers did not fal­sify fig­ures.” PR: But you said they did fal­sify fig­ures, but did so be­cause they were un­der pres­sure? >> JOK: “GRA mem­bers did not fal­sify fig­ures. GRA mem­bers were told to el­e­vate fig­ures by mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment and those fig­ures were el­e­vated thus.” PR: That’s fal­si­fi­ca­tion?

>> JOK: “They did not fal­sify; the fal­si­fi­ca­tion oc­curred in mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment, not at the lower ranks.” PR: So ex­plain that to me, they gath­ered all these false fig­ures and put them in the sys­tem, but you’re say­ing they didn’t fal­sify them, although they gath­ered them, they gave the num­bers in? >> JOK: “GRA mem­bers did not fal­sify that data sta­tis­tics, they did not fal­sify any of those. The fal­si­fi­cathe tion came from mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment, who put them un­der pres­sure to el­e­vate those fig­ures, that’s where the fal­si­fi­ca­tion came.” PR: But how did that hap­pen? The fal­si­fi­ca­tion be­gan from the false fig­ures on the check­points, which the gar­daí were on? >> JOK: “The fal­si­fi­ca­tion did not be­gin there, it be­gan with the pres­sure from mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment to el­e­vate the fig­ures, that’s where this process be­gan. It didn’t be­gin in the street, it didn’t be­gin dur­ing check­points, it be­gan when these peo­ple were told if they did not el­e­vate these fig­ures, there could be is­sues.” PR: So they el­e­vated the fig­ures and there­fore fal­si­fied them? >> JOK: “Again, I would say the fal­si­fi­ca­tion came not from GRA mem­ber­ship, but from mid­dle and se­nior man­age­ment.” PR: They fal­si­fied them? It’s like say­ing black is not black, black is white? They fal­si­fied the fig­ures, OK you are say­ing they fal­si­fied them un­der duress, the re­al­ity is they did fal­sify them? >> JOK: “GRA mem­ber­ship were put un­der enor­mous pres­sure by Garda man­age­ment to el­e­vate breathal­yser sta­tis­tics. This was done in weekly meet­ings, bi-weekly meet­ings, from chief su­per­in­ten­dent, as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner level all the way down to in­spec­tor and sergeant to the or­di­nary garda on the street. They were left in no doubt that if they did not el­e­vate these fig­ures that there could be im­pli­ca­tions for them and their work.” PR: So, they el­e­vated them and there­fore they fal­si­fied them? >> JOK: “They did not fal­sify this data. They were or­dered to el­e­vate these fig­ures, im­plicit in this threat that if they did not there would be im­pli­ca­tions for their work­ing life.” Cor­mac O’Ke­effe

GRA spokesper­son John O’Ke­effe said no blame should be as­signed to ‘or­di­nary gar­daí’.

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