Friday 23 February 2018

€100,000 transfer to garda boat club is embezzlement - Government TD

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell Picture: Tom Burke
Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell Picture: Tom Burke

Robin Schiller

The transfer of €100,000 from the Garda Training College to the private Garda Boat Club has been described as "embezzlement" by a Government TD.

The significant transaction was part of several financial irregularities revealed in an internal audit into the college.

However, senior Garda management have told the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) it is too early to identify if a criminal offence has been committed and that further examinations will need to be carried out.

An audit carried out by the Garda Internal Unit detailed the use of 48 different bank accounts and a "non-transparent system of accounting" at the college in Templemore, Co Tipperary.

The head of this unit, Niall Kelly, also told the PAC that information "could have been" purposely withheld from him when he attempted to investigate the college accounts in 2008 and 2009 and that he was "duped".

Concerns about the practice and protocols at the facility were expressed as far back as 2006, but it has emerged Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan was only made aware of the discrepancies in July 2015.

At the PAC, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell described certain aspects of the financial practices as "embezzlement", referring to the transfer of €100,000 to the Garda Boat Club, a private club and separate entity to the force.

He said: "€100,000 of money was sent to a private institution, the runners of which are not auditable or answerable to gardaí. The biggest issue I have with that is that they are public funds and they are in a private organisation. There's a term for that - embezzlement."

But, several senior gardaí, including Ms O'Sullivan, said it was too early to determine whether a criminal offence had occurred.

When asked whether there was anything to suspect a crime had been committed in the transferring of funds from the college to the Garda Boat Club, Ms O'Sullivan said: "No. I think it's too early to say ... several matters have to be followed up on by Niall (Kelly) and the (Internal Unit) who will then be in a better position to report. In order to establish whether or not there is a suspicion of something illegal happening, all the material available needs to be considered."

Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll will carry out an examination of the financial irregularities at the college.

Irish Independent

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