Thursday 17 August 2017

Garda Commissioner describes practices which led to financial irregularities at the Garda College as 'unacceptable'

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Robin Schiller

The Garda Commissioner has described the practices which led to financial irregularities at the Garda Training College as unacceptable and that some of the issues identified date back almost four decades.

Noirin O'Sullivan is currently appearing before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee in relation to an interim audit report which identified financial procedures at the training college in Templemore.

The report- published in March- revealed issues were flagged as far back as 2006 but only two out of 12 subsequent recommendations from the Garda finance directorate were implemented.

The Garda Commissioner, who was only made aware of the issue in July 2015, described the findings in the report as unacceptable.

"Many of the issues identified have routes going back to the 1980s before the Commissioner became a counting officer. Attempts have been made to address these issues. The practices identified should not have happened," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"It should be noted that the interim audit report found that the majority of the expenditure at the Garda College are managed to a high standard. As a counting officer I  take my responsibility for how An Garda Síochana spends the public's money very seriously".

An Assistant Commissioner has now been tasked with carrying out further examinations into financial procedures at the Garda College.

Deputy Catherine Murphy today also raised concerns over €100,000 being transferred to the Garda Boat club, which was described as a "separate entity" to An Garda Síochana.

In particular, the report focused on the use of cash from the rental of college land to farmers, the operation of a private company holding land for college sports facilities, and the use of accounts linked to the college bar, restaurant and laundry service.

Some €124,903 was collected in rent from farmers for the use of land called Dromad Farm between 2009 and 2013.

The land that was bought for a tactical training centre was not used due to the financial downturn.

Although the Office of Public Works was the legal owner, the college rented it out and the funds were deposited in the college restaurant account.

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