Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has criticised the high costs of the operation of the GoSafe speed vans and described the deal as an unbelievable waste of money.
The Sinn Fein TD was speaking following the release of figures last week that showed the country’s speed van operator GoSafe was paid €1.2m per month.
Deputy Crowe also raised concerns about the unwillingness of Garda and the Department of Justice to release such information, with the Office of the Information Commissioner overruling both parties.
“The revelations in the media on the cost of the GoSafe speed camera operation are quite extraordinary. It is truly shocking and unacceptable to hear of this level of public funds being spent in such a cavalier manner.
“Elements of this particular contract with GoSafe are really quite extraordinary and raise serious questions about the nature of this contract, the high levels of expenditure, and whether or not this contract represents value for money for taxpayers.
“The company was paid a flat rate of almost €45,000 per month before a single vehicle was checked. On top of this, a rate of €151.79 was paid per hour of speed monitoring, while €144.40 is paid for each surveying hour.
“This is an unbelievable amount of money to be spent on vehicles that in some cases are located on some roads in my own constituency of Dublin South West where there hasn’t been in living memory a road accident on a particular stretch of road.”
While agreeing that speed cameras placed in the right locations near accident hot spots are an important part of managing road safety, which have, and do, save lives, Deputy Crowe questioned whether some vans are often located in areas solely to generate income as opposed to preventing accidents.
“What is also worrying about this latest scandal is that the Gardaí Síochána and the Department of Justice fought tooth and nail to keep this information out of the public domain. Why?
“Why did it take the determination from the Information Commissioner to get this information released to the media?
“It would suggest to me that the Department and Gardaí knew that these levels of expenditure were not justifiable. Information on such levels of public expenditure are clearly in the public interest and should not have been contested.
“The agreement states that a daily rate of €1,343.44 must be paid if a designated service manager is required to appear in court as instructed by the Garda Commissioner.
“Hourly rates range from €40.79 for the appearance in court of administration staff and up to €167.93 for a service manager, are enormous sums for court appearances.
“Indeed, the strength of the legal basis for GoSafe appearing before courts in relation to speeding charges must also be called in to question, as several district court judges have thrown out cases because of issues with GoSafe, including judges who felt that their staff did not have the legal authority to assist in the prosecution of speeding cases.
“The Minister for Justice needs to outline what statutory basis exists for GoSafe appearing in court, and whether further attempts to charge people for speeding will be dismissed on this basis. If there are weaknesses present, then they must be addressed.
“I understand that the contract referred to ended in May 2017, and was replaced by a new contract – the Minister and the Gardaí must now outline the nature of this new contract, what levels of expenditure are involved, and if the issue of what appear to be outrageous fees have been resolved.”