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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Calls for cash in Templemore 'slush fund' to be paid back

Officers who trained in Templemore paid 20 cent a week to pay for their laundry, which included sheets, bed linen, uniform and casual clothes. (Stock picture)
Officers who trained in Templemore paid 20 cent a week to pay for their laundry, which included sheets, bed linen, uniform and casual clothes. (Stock picture)

Ken Foy and Niall O'Connor

Gardaí will demand that money they paid for laundry services channelled to the now notorious 'slush fund' at the Templemore Training College is returned.

Trainee gardaí coughed up tens of thousands of euro to wash their bed sheets and clothes - but a large amount of the money was used to subsidise the Garda Boat Club and meals for senior officers.

Senior members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) are now set to call for a full investigation, according to well-placed sources.

Linen

Officers who trained in Templemore paid 20 cent a week to pay for their laundry, which included sheets, bed linen, uniform and casual clothes.

The bill for an average officer totalled €10 per year .

With tens of thousands of trainees entering Templemore over more than a decade, the laundry bill would have ran into tens of thousands.

Last night, a senior GRA source said officers will be seeking some form of recompense.

"This whole scandal has demoralised the rank-and-file. We are demanding answers," the source told the Irish Independent.

There was also expenditure on flowers, jewellery, the parish clergy, meals and entertainment. A sense of unease could be detected within both political and Garda circles yesterday following the dramatic events that unfolded this week.

Although Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald have defended Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, it is widely felt within political circles that the Templemore issue will be her downfall.

The 120-page report by Garda HR boss John Barrett quoted a former boss saying "there is never just one cockroach" as he outlined his concerns over finances at Templemore Training College.

The audit itself detailed the buying of gifts, spending on entertainment and sponsoring Garda clubs. It found that concerns about financial irregularities were first expressed more than a decade ago.

Mr Barrett, a senior civilian, was appointed as executive director human resources - a role that has responsibility for the Garda College - in October 2014.

Lessons

A whole section of Mr Barrett's own extensive report - sent to the PAC - is dedicated to the cultural lessons he argues must be learned from the history of the finances at the Training College.

Mr Barrett said that gardaí "as guardians of the public purse, need to understand how our internal guard dogs did not bark" and "most especially how this came to happen over many years".

Mr Barrett added that this is because - as his former boss at another organisation used to tell him - "John, there is never just one cockroach".

He concluded the section of his report saying that he's of the "clear view that there are very clear cultural lessons to be learned from this history".

Irish Independent

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