‘The falsification came from middle and senior management’
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’.