Taoiseach Leo Varadkar taking Leaders’ Questions earlier today
Earlier this afternoon.
During Leaders’ Questions.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked about the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.
Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald reminded Mr Varadkar of several items that emerged in the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, including:
Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan claims she first learned of the concerns about the Garda College on July 27, 2015 when head of HR John Barrett briefed her and others about the matters.
Mr Barrett claims he was told by College Administrator Sgt Pat McCabe that Ms O’Sullivan knew as early as June 23, 2015, while Mr Barrett claims former Chief Administrative Officer Cyril Dunne told him Ms O’Sullivan knew on June 30, 2015.
Either way, on July 31, 2015 – four days after the briefing from Mr Barrett – Ms O’Sullivan wrote a letter to the Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy stating: “I have disclosed to you all the instances of loss, fraud or irregularity are known to have occurred or have been reported”.
But she didn’t disclose the matters concerning the Garda College to Mr McCarthy.
And the C&AG was only eventually made aware on May 31, 2016, by the head of internal audit Niall Kelly – who has previously cla
Readers may wish to recall that at a previous PAC meeting, on June 14, 2017, the current Chief Administration Officer at the College Dónall Ó Cualáin said:
“At that point [October 2015], the advice was that the legal advice had to be sought and obtained before Mr [Niall] Kelly could commence his work [audit], all the bank accounts had to be closed, and all the moneys and investments had to be brought into one account. All that work was ongoing.”
It’s understood this advice was not from Head of Legal Affairs Ken Ruane but from Cyril Dunne.
Further to this, Ms McDonald asked Mr Varadkar if he has confidence in Noirin O’Sullivan, who became interim Garda Commissioner in 2014.
Further to this…
Mr Varadkar replied:
“Yes, I do have confidence in the Garda Commissioner and the Government does, too. The problems that are besetting the gardai are long-standing. Many, most, if not all of the problems that beset the gardai predate her becoming Garda Commissioner. And I believe that she is somebody who is fighting many battles on many fronts in an effort to put things right.”
Previously: A Templemore Timeline
In The Irish Times…
Political reporter Sarah Bardon writes:
The [PAC] session was mammoth and the line of questioning was robust. But at times it seemed unfair to the witness.
O’Sullivan faced committee members that have already decided she is unfit for office. Can she expect a fair hearing when at least 10 of the 13 members have stated publicly they believe she should be removed as commissioner?