Some time back an outfit called "Go Safe" were awarded a contract by the Gardai to operate speed vans to rip the rest of us off. In tandem, the Gardai run their own 'Gatso' speed vans as well.
Anyway, last October a judge in Clare struck out 98 speeding charges brought by the Go Safe outfit. At the time Judge Patrick Durcan said that, "Go Safe' staff were unable to demonstrate the requisite legal authority to provide evidence on behalf of Gardai." As a result of that we also learned that since 2009, more than 1,300 cases involving private cameras and Garda cameras have been dismissed in court. You would have to say that someone somewhere is making a horse's ass of it. But it is pretty ominous when a judge suggests that an endorsed law enforcement company is, "Bringing the law into disrepute."
Where does that leave us though? Well, if you are unlucky enough to be nabbed by a Gatso van then you are for the high jump. Love or hate the Gardai, they are still our lads. With the Gatso brigade you can only comfort yourself with the thought that, "It's a fair cop but society is to blame." However, if the Go Safe crowd spot you haring along in a hurry, there's still hope. In fact, even more so as a result of yesterday.
At Ennis District Court, solicitor Daragh Hassett heard that the State was withdrawing a prosecution against the speeding motorist he was representing. Fascinatingly in this case the defendant demanded to see a copy of the contract between Go Safe and the Gardai and rather than make this public, Go Safe and the Gardai withdrew the charge. During the proceedings though a nasty pile of interesting facts emerged. The Go Safe consortium was last year paid €17.23m by the Gardaí for operating 20 vans on their behalf, with the current contract due to expire in November of this year. This private operation was recording operating profits of around €50,000 a week in 2012, (€2.6m annually).
Indeed this was enlightening enough but we also discovered that when their contract was liable to come into the public eye, Go Safe promptly cancelled their limited liability status in favor of declaring themselves an unlimited company, thus removing its profits from public scrutiny. What have they got to hide, I wonder? During that case in Ennis, the defendant won a court order to secure a copy of an €80m contract with the Go Safe consortium and his solicitor bemoaned the fact that as a result of the dropped charges, this will not now be seen by any of us. So he hinted that he might seek to have a look at it again in another case only to be told by Inspector O'Sullivan that if Judge Durcan was to make a similar order in the future regarding the contract, the Gardaí would oppose it too.
Jesus! What does that contract say? Actually, what could it possibly say that would induce such opposition to it being seen by the rest of us? The twenty vans run by Go Safe are costing all of us €17.23m a year. That's €861,500 per van!! Do Rolls Royce make vans?
The farce that is this wonderful little potato Republic just gets better and better, doesn't it? And the road safety crowd wants us to view speeding as a serious offense. Fat chance!