Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan TD has described as scandalous the news that over 14,000 people who were prosecuted for road traffic offences are to have their convictions quashed due to a Garda error, and has demanded that those responsible for the mess be identified and held accountable.

He has also called for an immediate explanation as to how, from 2011 to 2016, the number of drink-driving tests Gardaí claimed to have carried out was hugely exaggerated, by over 937,000. He also questioned the timing of the news release and expressed concern that it could be viewed as cynical.

Commenting on the issue this evening, Deputy O’Callaghan said, “Like many others across the country I had trouble comprehending the scale of the problem announced today by An Garda Siochana. I had further trouble accepting the proposition that senior Gardaí have zero knowledge as to how such a colossal error may have occurred.

“Claiming system and policy failures without further explanation risks undermining public confidence in our national police service and is not an acceptable response. The scale and seriousness of this revelation is scandalous. It requires a response from the Gardaí which recognises the threat it poses to the organisation’s credibility.

“We need to know who is responsible for this appalling lapse and who is going to be held accountable. The taxpayer is now faced with a bill estimated to run into millions of euro. It is simply inconceivable that taxpayers will be the only people paying for this mess. We also need an explanation as to how the number of drink-driving tests was overstated by nearly 1 million. It is not acceptable for the Gardai to state that they do not know how this error occurred. They need to identify the reason and inform the public promptly.

“My party and I also have a concern about the timing of this news release. The Gardaí have clearly been investigating the issue for some time – the fact that it was not released ahead of the Tánaiste’s appearance for questions today in Dáil Éireann and was sent out on an otherwise exceptionally busy news day will encourage cynicism about the motivation of its timing.

“If the timing of the news release was an attempt to minimise how seriously it will be taken, those behind the decision would appear not to grasp the seriousness of the problem that has emerged. My party and I will be insisting on full explanations and accountability on this issue.”