Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday
At the Public Accounts Committee in respect of financial irregularities at the Garda College on Tuesday, some TDs spoke of how convenient it was that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan had referred a report on the alleged placement of EU funds into an AIB bank account in Cabra, controlled by a retired senior officer, to GSOC, on Monday.
The move largely precluded Ms O’Sullivan from discussing the matter in detail.
Ms O’Sullivan specifically told the committee:
“I am conscious that the matter has been referred to GSOC and now forms part of its consideration and examination. I will be precluded from discussing a lot of a detail but I am happy if I can assist the Deputy with his questions.”
Further to this.
Broadsheet understands GSOC generally does not investigate retired members of An Garda Siochana.
This is because GSOC operates under the Garda Siochana Act 2005, and it’s basically a disciplinary procedure for serving Garda members.
In addition, if GSOC did uphold a complaint against a retired member, it can take little or no action against retired members in terms of reduced rank or pay.
From top: Head of Internal Audit at An Garda Siochana Niall Kelly; Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy
In the last 30 minutes.
During the closing stages of today’s meeting of the Public Accounts Committee.
Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy had the following exchange with head of internal audit Niall Kelly in relation to the Garda College, Templemore, Co. Tipperary.
Catherine Murphy: “Obviously, you’re going to come back to us, Mr Kelly, in relation, to the number of bank accounts, and you’re looking at that at the moment and you probably were looking, and I’m not sure whether it’s yourself, or Mr [Chief Administration Officer Joseph] Nugent, who would have been, when the bank accounts were being closed, if anything was discovered.
“Can I just ask you, very specifically, if there’s any indication of any Templemore monies being sent to a bank account in Dublin under the control of a former senior Garda officer and whether or not you’re carrying out a specific investigation in relation to that or anything of that nature?”
Niall Kelly: “Chair, I’d rather not answer that question because it’s the subject of audit…”
Talk over each other
Murphy: “But there is an audit?”
Kelly: “There is an audit.”
Murphy: “Of that nature?”
Kelly: “There are some issues that you touched on that could be issues within our audit.”
From top: Garda College, Templemore; John Barrett, executive director of human resources and people development at An Garda Siochana; Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan
You may recall how the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, was the subject of a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting last Thursday.
It followed PAC receiving, last March, a 44-page Garda Internal Audit Section (GIAS) report on serious financial irregularities at the Garda College and a further 13-page interim audit report in relation to how the recommendations of the GIAS report were being implemented.
The interim audit report on the recommendations was carried out by the head of internal audit Niall Kelly.
Among those attending last week’s PAC meeting included Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan; Kenneth Ruane, head of legal affairs; Joseph Nugent, chief administrative officer, Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, with responsibility for governance and strategy; Michael Culhane, executive director of finance and services; John Barrett, executive director of human resources and people development; and Mr Kelly.
Readers will recall how, during last week’s PAC meeting, Ms O’Sullivan maintained that this meeting was “a very brief conversation” while they were having tea, while Mr Barrett maintained that the meeting last for more than two hours.
Specifically, Ms O’Sullivan said:
“On the 27th of July, I believe there was a very brief conversation in a room after a meeting in Templemore, in which Mr Barrett raised certain issues specifically around some work he was doing when I was present along with the two deputy commissioners and the chief administrative officer. My recollection [as regards the length of the meeting] is very brief.”
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan with two mounted gardaí this morning outside Farmleigh House as she met school students who have made projects related to policing matters for the BT Young Scientist competition
You may recall how, in March, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) received a 44-page Garda Internal Audit Section (GIAS) report on serious financial irregularities at the Garda College in Templemore.
It also received a further 13-page interim audit report in relation to how the recommendations of the GIAS report were being implemented. This was carried out by the head of internal audit Niall Kelly.
Readers will recall how the GIAS report was the subject of an article by John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, on January 22.
Yesterday, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s appeared before the PAC to field questions on these reports.
Further to this…
Conor Lally in today’s Irish Times reports:
At the PAC meeting, which lasted more than five hours, the Commissioner said that in July 2015, she was having a cup of tea in a room in the Templemore college when [director of Garda human resources, John] Barrett informed her there were problems.
The meeting was brief and it was the first time she knew of any concerns in relation to spending at the Garda training college, she said.
However, Mr Barrett then contradicted her evidence. He said the meeting lasted for more than two hours.
He produced notes which he said he had taken at the time he met her and in which he had recorded the start and finish time of the meeting, as well as who was present, the issues discussed and the order in which people had walked into the room.
The head of An Garda Síochána’s internal audit system has told an Oireachtas committee he believes he was “duped” when he was told that action would be taken in relation to financial irregularities at the Garda College in Templemore.
Speaking before the Public Accounts Committee, Niall Kelly said there was a different culture in the force and he said he got caught in “circling the wagons” as late as 2015.
Mr Kelly said in his view certain laws were broken; procurement legislation was breached but these issues need to be further investigated.
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan held a press conference, in light of yesterday’s PAC meeting.
At the meeting, differences emerged between her and the director of human resources John Barrett’s account of when and how he raised concerns with her about the Garda College. She said he raised his concerns in a brief meeting over a cup of tea while he said it was a two-hour meeting, in which he took notes.
There were also questions over whether she told the Department of Justice, as she was required to do and had been given legal advice to do so, and over head of An Garda Síochána’s internal audit Niall Kelly claiming that he felt he was “duped” when he was told action would be taken when financial irregularities were found and that he faced the “circling of wagons” regarding the same.
On RTÉ’s News At One, Paul Reynolds reported on the press conference with a clip from Ms O’Sullivan saying:
“Well, you know, regardless of how long the meeting took place on the Garda College, I think the issues and facts speak for themselves. Mr Barrett, absolutely as line manager in the college, when he became aware of issues, which raised alarms for him, he raised them with his line manager. His line manager raised those issues with myself and the two deputy commissioners on the 27th of July. On the 28th of July, there was a group formalised which the CAO had been working on and that group met thereafter.”
“The important thing here is there is always full transparency around this issues. So on the 28th of July, the date after that meeting, this group was formalised and it was put into place. There were representatives from the Department of Justice on that group. The objective was to make sure that a) that the matters were dealt with, that there was full transparency in relation to the matters dealt with and that we understood fully what the complexities of the issues were. And, again, we have to remember, this is something that is going on for over 30 years.
“The funding model in the college dates back 30 years. There were several reports as we have heard into the way these matters needed to be regularised. The important thing is, in July 2015, when I, as accounting officer, found out about these issues, we immediately took steps to begin to address it. Those steps have led to revised administrative structures in the Garda College. Assurances from the line managers there, including the chief administrative officer and the head of internal audit, that what happened then cannot happen now.”
“And we will make sure that that continues to be robustly put in place and we make sure that the assurances that we all need, that the practices which we are totally unacceptable and cannot happen again.”