Fianna Fáil councillor Clare Coleman Molloy has called for a review of the go-Safe speeding contract after a number of cases before the District Court were dismissed when company representatives failed to appear to give witness testimony.
Since their introduction in 2010 the civilian operated Go-Safe speed detection vans have caused controversy. Originally intended to monitor roads where serious collisions are known to occur, the vans appear to operate at locations where they are most likely to detect speeding motorists regardless of road conditions.
At the March meeting of Clare County Council, Fianna Fáil councillor Clare Colleran Molloy spoke of attending a recent district court sitting when Judge Patrick Durkin was “palpably irritated” when left with no option but to dismiss nine Go-Safe prosecutions because personnel did not appear in court to give witness evidence.
Cllr Colleran-Molloy has now called for the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee to examine the costs of the administration of justice attributable to the Go-Safe contract. She also wants the Garda Commissioner to undertake the Go-Safe prosecutions directly and claimed the present system is an abuse of scarce state resources.
According to Cllr Colleran-Molloy, her motion paraphrased the words of Judge Durkin when he said the Go-Safe system disrespects the country’s administration of justice and should be examined by the Public Accounts Committee. In addition the Garda Commissioner should undertake these prosecutions directly. Cllr Colleran-Molloy also described controversial revelations with regard to the Gardaí, as upsetting, saying they are creating a crisis in confidence in the force.
Having viewed senior Garda management being questioned by the Justice Committee, she said the revelations have been hard to believe as essentially what is at stake is the health and safety of the road-using public and these allegations are of serious concern particularly as people are still dying on the roads.
Cllr Colleran-Molloy spoke of a personal interest in these matters as her own brother was killed while walking along a road. She said that peoples’ trust and belief in their policing service must be addressed immediately.
Commenting on the motion, Cllr PJ Ryan said the Gardaí should take operational control of the Go-Safe vans. “I have always believed that this was a revenue-collecting exercise rather than law enforcement. Justice Durkin is right, if Go-Safe personnel do not want to verify an event in front of a court, the case should not be heard. This legislation needs to be changed.”
Cllr Ryan further claimed that the people responsible for operating the Go-Safe vans have been asked several times to state how much revenue they are taking in from speeding fines yet they have refused to give an answer. “I believe it runs into millions and this funding would be better going directly to the Garda Síochána rather than this private company,” said Cllr Ryan. In conclusion he said the system needs to revert to the Gardaí and some of the money raised should be spent on education to teach children just how dangerous speeding on our roads is.