Report reveals amount of penalty point charges wiped in Westmeath

A total of 1,523 fixed charge notices for traffic offences were cancelled by Gardaí in Westmeath, according to data released by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC ).

The 1,523 charges - 4.5 per cent of a total of 33,146 issued in the county - were wiped out between 2009 and 2012. In Roscommon, some 2,098 of 33,389 charges were removed.

Three quarters of cancellations were done without any adequate reasons provided. In some cases, the ombudsman found that login credentials of retired Gardaí were used to erase points.

Senior Gardaí also cancelled points outside their geographical jurisdictions, which is against Garda protocol. One officer in particular wiped 774 fixed charge notices across 17 counties.

GSOC published these figures following a probe into allegations by Mullingar sergeant and whistleblower Maurice McCabe that the system was being abused. McCabe alleges that his whistleblowing made him the victim of a campaign of slander and defamation from within An Garda Síochána, and the ensuing controversy brought to light further corruption in the force.

Most recently, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald resigned after it emerged that she was aware of - and did not act against - a campaign to discredit McCabe in front of an official inquiry, over three years after Fitzgerald promised "a new era of policing".

Claims and counter-claims are ongoing, as is a national debate on the future of policing in Ireland, including a public conference in Athlone on Thursday, December 14.

The ombudsman said it believes that it is doubtful whether an overhaul of the system would have come about without the intervention of Maurice McCabe.

GSOC has declined to carry out a second phase of its penalty points investigation, as its €1 million cost would be prohibitive. It has written to the acting Garda Commissioner to inform him of this.

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