From top: Head of internal audit at An Garda Siochana Niall Kelly; head of human resources at An Garda Siochana John Barrett
At the Public Accounts Committee.
The Garda College interim audit report – which lays out serious financial irregularities at the college in Templemore, Co Tippeary – will be further discussed.
Those expected to attend include:
Niall Kelly – Head of Internal Audit (author of the audit report); John Barrett – Executive Director, Human Resources and People Development; Michael Culhane – Executive Director, Finance and Services; Ken Ruane – Head of Legal Services; Joseph Nugent – Chief Administrative Officer; Michael Howard – former Head of the Garda Audit Committee.
Readers will recall how on May 4, during a PAC meeting, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said she first learned of the issues at Templemore from head of human resources at An Garda Siochana John Barrett during a “very brief conversation” on July 27, 2015 while they were having tea.
Mr Barrett maintained it lasted for more than two hours.
Further to this, Mr Barrett later released a 122-page file to PAC, which contained a letter he had written to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of An Garda Siochana Cyril Dunne, on September 20, 2015, giving details of the meeting.
Those who were present at the meeting included Mr Barrett, Ms O’Sullivan, Mr Dunne, Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin and Assistant Commissioner John Twomey.
This letter can be read here.
Readers will recall how Niall Kelly explained, in his interim report of February 2017, that he deleted a paragraph (above) from the final version of a report on the Garda College in 2011.
He claims he deleted the paragraph after he was assured that the issues were addressed by Executive Director, Finance and Services Michael Culhane.
At the PAC meeting of May 4, Mr Kelly said he felt he had been “duped” and that he was caught in the “circling of wagons”.
During the PAC meeting, Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane had the following exchange with Mr Kelly and Mr Culhane.
David Cullinane: “Page 14 of the report refers to the Garda Commissioner and 2 March 2011 and contains a paragraph which says “no assurances were given”. That paragraph was removed and deleted and Mr. Kelly said this was because he was given assurances.”
Niall Kelly: “I was provided with a summarised report from Mr Culhane and assurances that the issues were being dealt with.”
Cullinane: “Did Mr. Culhane give the assurances to Mr. Kelly?”
Michael Culhane: “I did not give them directly to Mr Kelly. It went to the CAO [Cyril Dunne] showing the progress that had been made on some of the issues.”
Cullinane: “However, the assurances were given by Mr. Culhane. The CAO was the conduit but the assurances were given by Mr. Culhane.”
Culhane: “I did not give assurances. I gave an update on the report.”
Cullinane: “However, Mr Kelly saw this as assurances because he said he deleted the paragraph because of assurances that were given.”
Kelly: “Yes. I had conversations with the audit committee.”
Cullinane: “Who gave Mr. Kelly the assurances he talked about?”
Kelly: “I got the report. I spoke to the CAO at the time. I spoke to the chairman of the audit committee at the time. It had gone to the Commissioner. The note had come back from the Commissioner, in the margins of the letter back from the Commissioner, that this report should be provided to me. I had highlighted my issues to the highest level in the organisation. Ultimately, my role is an advisory role.”
Cullinane: “Everyone is passing the buck.”
Kelly: “I am not passing the…”
Cullinane: “I do not say Mr. Kelly is here. He deleted a vital paragraph based on assurances that action was being taken. Who gave him those assurances?”
Kelly: “The CAO primarily.”
Cullinane: “Who did he get them from?”
Kelly: “From Mr Culhane.”
Cullinane: “That is what I am trying to establish exactly. Mr Kelly’s view now is that those assurances were not worth the paper they were written on. Would that be a fair...”
Kelly: “That would be true. I would also say that it was a mistake on my part to delete that paragraph.”
Cullinane: “Mr Kelly is brave enough to accept that he made a mistake.”
Cullinane: “I commend him on that. Does he feel he was duped?”
Kelly: “I do.”
Cullinane: “Does he regret that he was duped in that way?”
Cullinane: “Who does he believe duped him? Perhaps he should name offices rather than individuals.”
Kelly: “I think that is an unfair question to ask. It could be a range of people.”
Vice Chairman Alan Kelly: “In the interest of fairness, does Mr Kelly feel it was multiple people or one person?”
Kelly: “Reference was made to culture. There was a different culture at that stage. There was a culture of circling the wagons and I got caught trying to bang into the wagons.”
Cullinane: “Does Mr. Kelly agree that the culture of An Garda Síochána up to 2015 was to circle the wagons rather than to accept there was wrongdoing and correct it? Would that be his view as head of internal audit?”
Kelly: Speaking now, having gone through the past five years and writing this report, that is the only conclusion I can come to.”
Tomorrow’s PAC meeting, in committee room 3, will take place over two sessions, at 9am and 5pm.
Those who wish can watch it live here
Previously: Out In The Cold