Wednesday 26 November 2014

PAC queries garda boss over medical aid fund awards

Published 17/08/2014 | 02:30

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Collins
Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. Photo: Collins

THE Public Accounts 
Committee (PAC) has written to acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan over the awarding of €124,000 to its medical aid society each year.

The Sunday Independent has learnt that Ms O'Sullivan is to respond to queries from PAC Chairman John McGuinness about how the monies, which come from the taxpayer, are used.

The queries have been raised after Michael Keane, a committee member at the St Paul's Garda Medical Aid Society, obtained a High Court injunction on an ex parte basis (where one side only appears in court) to stop the commissioner from filling a senior post at the society, over concerns he had as to how it was being run.

In correspondence between Mr Keane and the commissioner, he alleges that expenditure on "committee expenses" of €152,297 in 2012 and 2013 by his fellow committee members was excessive.

On the day the injunction was due to be heard by the High Court, the parties agreed to strike it out with no orders, leaving each side to cover their own costs.

The society is now seeking Mr Keane to refund it €16,000 in legal costs it was forced to incur on foot of his injunction.

It says he "gave no indication" to the committee that he was taking the action. According to its annual report, the committee has "requested Michael Keane to refund the legal fees, but to date the society has not had a response to this request". Mr Keane's solicitor disputes this saying: "Our client was never asked by the society to pay the €16,000. Thus it is entirely a matter for the society to discharge their own costs."

A spokesman for the society was not available for comment, but sources at St Pauls insisted that there is absolutely no case to answer, saying it is run to the highest standards. St Paul's Garda Medical Aid Society provides for the payment of mortality and other benefits in the case of long-term illness.

Mr McGuinness has asked Ms O'Sullivan and Garda finance director Michael Culhane whether they had a role in overseeing the allocation of expenses. In response, Mr Culhane said: "It is not something I can do because it is completely outside our remit," he added.

DANIEL McCONNELL

Sunday Independent

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