Thursday 17 August 2017

Garda Commissioner denies misleading PAC over 'brief' two-hour college audit meeting

Nóirín O'Sullivan during a schools event for students who entered policing-related projects into the 2017 BT Young Scientist Exhibition at Farmleigh House, Dublin, yesterday Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Nóirín O'Sullivan during a schools event for students who entered policing-related projects into the 2017 BT Young Scientist Exhibition at Farmleigh House, Dublin, yesterday Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Ryan Nugent

Fianna Fáil has piled pressure on the Garda Commissioner and said that the best option is for her to resign.

Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has denied misleading the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and played down time discrepancies from a meeting over audits into the Garda College in 2015.

Ms O'Sullivan and HR chief John Barrett both gave evidence to the PAC on Thursday evening over financial irregularities at the Garda College in Templemore.

This included a €100,000 fund transferred to the private Garda boat club, which Ms O'Sullivan was made aware of in July 2015.

The funding transfer was described as "embezzlement" by Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell and is part of several financial irregularities at the college to be revealed from an internal audit.

However, Ms O'Sullivan said she was made aware during a "brief" meeting, which Mr Barrett claimed was two hours long.

When asked about the discrepancy, Ms O'Sullivan did not provide clarity over the duration of the meeting - but insisted that she did not mislead the committee.

Ms O'Sullivan was questioned a number of times over the time differences, but insisted it was irrelevant and that they followed procedure.

"Regardless of how long the meeting took place in the Garda College, I think the issues speak for themselves," she said.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan said that the party still cannot express confidence in Ms O'Sullivan.

However, he told the Irish Independent that it would not try to force her out of office as that is the prerogative of the Government. "We still haven't gotten answers to why there were almost a million fake breath tests," he said.

Pressure

Asked whether it would put pressure on the Government to remove Ms O'Sullivan, he said: "We can't control it.

"The Government can't get rid of a Garda Commissioner just because the Dáil arithmetic wants them to."

Ms O'Sullivan also denied any knowledge of wealth within clubs at the Garda College, while being stationed there for six months as a Superintendent in charge of specialist training in 2000. "I can say as a matter of record, I have never been involved in the Garda boat club and never been involved with any of the clubs in the Garda College," she said.

"I was in charge of specialist training, so I was in charge of detective training, farms training and driver training, so that was my focus."

Ms O'Sullivan said that she acknowledged that something really wrong had occurred at the college.

"The practices involved that took place in Templemore are totally unacceptable," she said.

The PAC is expected to recall Ms O'Sullivan in the coming weeks.

Irish Independent

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