Saturday 22 July 2017

Former garda commissioners may be called before PAC on Templemore controversy

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Picture: Gerry Mooney

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

FORMER Garda Commissioners face the prospect of being hauled before the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee amid the growing controversy over the finances of the Templemore Training College.

Among those who would potentially be invited is former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Labour TD Alan Kelly and Fianna Fáil's Marc MacSharry both said consideration should be given to requesting that previous Garda Commissioners and other former senior officers attend the PAC as it continues its examination of the matter.

It comes after an appearance by the current Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan last week.

In her evidence she said that she found out about financial issues at the college during a “brief meeting” over a cup of tea in July 2015. This was contradicted by Garda human resources boss John Barrett who told TDs that the July 2015 meeting lasted more than two hours.

Mr Barrett subsequently sent the PAC a dossier outlining his own review of the situation at Templemore.

In the documents Mr Barrett gives extensive details of his efforts to raise concerns about the College's finances.

A separate internal audit the Garda Training College published in March showed a complex web of bank accounts with some used for purposes other than those for which they were intended.

That included buying gifts, spending on entertainment and sponsoring Garda clubs.

The PAC will also consider whether or not to invite Ms O'Sullivan back to appear before them sooner than a July 2013 meeting that she is currently scheduled to attend.

Mr MacSharry told this morning's meeting that the Templemore issue affects the public's confidence in An Garda Síochána and looking into the matter should be the PAC's "top priority". 

Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan said that the PAC needs to question Ms O'Sullivan further but also stressed the need for "due process".

Sinn Féin TD David Culliane said he wanted the structure of any PAC meetings considering the matter needs to be decided upon.

He also said he'd like to see senior Garda Officials given the opportunity to answer questions without Ms O'Sullivan present.

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell said he believes an investigation of the finances at Templemore should be conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG).

PAC chairman Seán Fleming asked TDs to compile lists of potential witnesses and documents to be sought by the committee by next Thursday's meeting.

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