Wednesday 20 September 2017

O'Sullivan 'rejected advice' to tell the Government about financial concerns

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: PA
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: PA

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan rejected advice from one of her most senior advisers to formally notify the Government of the financial scandal at Templemore College.

A confidential letter from the Commissioner's office, sent in August 2015, details how Ms O'Sullivan wanted the financial irregularities investigated further before submitting a report to Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

And minutes of a meeting from an internal Garda working group held just two days later state that Ms O'Sullivan "is very clear in her position" that notifying the Government was not yet required.

Under Section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act, any "significant development" that might affect public confidence of the force should be brought to the attention of the Justice Minister. The dossier reveals how the Head of Legal Affairs in An Garda Síochána, Ken Ruane, suggested that both the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) and the Justice Minister be notified of the financial concerns at the college.

But the Commissioner resisted the calls, according to minutes obtained by the Irish Independent.

Pressure

"The Commissioner is very clear in her position on this matter and that is that more information is required before a section 41 report can be considered," the minutes state.

The revelations will heap major pressure on Ms O'Sullivan, who has been strongly criticised for not notifying Ms Fitzgerald at an earlier date.

Ms O'Sullivan has insisted that she acted properly after learning of issues around the mismanagement of funds at Templemore in July 2015. But further documents show that Ms O'Sullivan waited until October before finally alerting the Department of Justice.

In a letter sent by senior department official Anne Barry to the force's chief administrative officer, Cyril Dunne, it is stated that a "thorough examination" of the issues is required.

The senior justice official also sought an "early meeting" with the force to discuss the matters.

"Our view is that a thorough examination of these issues is required to establish the facts and to identify appropriate solutions having regard to the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and other legal obligations, proper management of public funds and the maintenance of community relations," Ms Barry wrote in the letter dated October 7.

"The nature of some of the issues points towards the need to involve the Audit Committee," she added.

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Irish Independent

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