On the 20th of February 2017, Deputy Broughan sent out a press release stating his shock at the then Irish Times report that “Garda breath test figures fail to add up” regarding the differences in number of breath-test results being uploaded to the PULSE system in comparison with the numbers of disposable mouth pieces being ordered from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. At that time, the statistics on the Garda.ie website (which have since been removed from the site), stated that in 2009 there were 277,398 breath tests at MAT (Mandatory Alcohol Testing checkpoints), in 2010 there were 566,760, in 2011 there were 539,658, in 2012 there were 460,578 and in 2013 there were 441,380. 2014 figures showed that the number of breath tests reduced down to 397,513 and this had further reduced to 327,450 in 2015. We know now, following last week’s revelations, that these figures were over-exaggerated by almost 1,000,000.
On the 28th of February 2017, Deputy Broughan received a reply from the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, to a number of Parliamentary Questions he raised on the matter. The reply from the Tánaiste stated “The Garda authorities have also assured me that no issues stem from this audit with regard to the performance of MAT checkpoints or prosecutions emanating therefrom.” However, since last week, we know that this statement is completely untrue and there are huge issues stemming from this audit. Also revealed at the Garda press conference last week was that almost 15,000 drivers were wrongfully convicted of road traffic offences having already paid their Fixed Charge Notices (FCNs).
Deputy Broughan says “I am highly concerned at last week’s revelations by An Garda Síochána, particularly given the reassurances on the Dáil record by the Tánaiste just one month ago that there was nothing to worry about. The whole situation beggars belief. In what other profession would an employee get away with over-inflating figures for such a long period of time? There must be accountability and repercussions. When will we have the information on which counties have fared worst in the audit? With the Northern Region having a 103% difference and the South Eastern a 153% difference it is clear to see that there are regional problems which must be urgently addressed. Back in 2015, I was told, via replies to PQs that 51 drivers involved in fatal road traffic collisions were not tested for alcohol at the scene of the collision. When will the CT68 form be updated to ensure that the Drager and Test numbers are included and must be recorded at RTCs? The Garda Commissioner’s position is simply no longer tenable and in that regard, neither is the Tánaiste’s and I will be re-iterating these points during this afternoon’s speech on the matter.”