Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has accused Justice Minister Alan Shatter of failing to act decisively in relation to the penalty points scandal and of attempting to undermine the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee.
Speaking today during Leaders’ Questions in Dail, the Sinn Fein leader welcomed the decision to hold an independent investigation into the penalty points scandal but said the decision raised serious questions.
Mr Adams said:
“It is almost two years since Garda whistle-blowers drew attention to irregularities in the implementation of the penalty points system. Rather than announce an independent investigation then, the Minister has chosen to do so just before a planned appearance by a Garda whistle-blower at the Public Accounts Committee.”
The Sinn Fein Leader said a key requirement of serious political reform was ensure the capacity of TDs to ask questions that needed to be asked of public officials:
“But now, when robust questions are indeed being asked, we see, once again, that the real intention of this government is to close down public scrutiny and frustrate oversight and accountability, including the work of the Public Accounts Committee.”
He said the sole reason for the protracted nature of this controversy was Shatter’s failure to deal with the scandal decisively in the first instance, that he had attempted to undermine the Public Accounts Committee and that he had made the situation more difficult for future whistle-blowers.
Mr Adams pointed said theTaoiseach had recently praised the role and the work of the Dail Public Accounts Committee and asked whether he agreed that the PAC was performing an important public service in its examination of the penalty points scandal and should be allowed to continue with its hearings on the issue.
He said Minister Shatter could have referred the matter to the Garda Ombudsman when it was first brought to his attention, and that this had been confirmed by the Garda Ombudsman Commission.
He also asked for an assurance that the Ombudsman will have the power to question the Garda Commissioner and will have full and unfettered access to the Garda’s electronic Pulse system.