Thursday 14 December 2017

Garda boss claims 'crude whispering campaign' after he blew the whistle

John Barrett
John Barrett

Cormac McQuinn and Niall O'Connor

One of the most senior figures within An Garda Síochána has claimed he was subjected to a "whispering campaign" after blowing the whistle on the notorious Templemore 'slush fund'.

Head of human resources John Barrett has launched a ferocious new attack on Garda management, in particular Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

In an extraordinary 88-page dossier, Mr Barrett quoted the book 'Lies in a Mirror' by Mr Justice Peter Charleton, specifically citing the chapter 'Dynamic of Evil', which argues that "deceit is the primary instrument for doing evil".

He added "truth and accountability must be found to have a genuine value" in the force.

Mr Barrett is seen within both Garda and Government circles as having taken a major risk in challenging Garda management over the Templemore issue.

He has already appeared in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), at which he refused to express full confidence in Garda management.

But his latest dossier, seen by the Irish Independent, will place further pressure on Commissioner O'Sullivan.

The dossier sets out a number of allegations including:

Fresh contradictions of previous testimony given by Ms O'Sullivan;

Claims that the alleged fraudulent flow of EU cash in to a Cabra bank account must be investigated further;

Allegations he was subjected to a "whispering campaign" as well as "spurious criminal allegations" by senior colleagues;

Claims that Commissioner O'Sullivan was trying to demote key civilian staff through new reporting structures introduced in the force.

Mr Barrett's allegations will be considered by PAC members as they prepare their final report into the Templemore scandal.

It's suspected that gross financial mismanagement led to the disappearance of €1.7m of taxpayers' money.

Public funds also went towards expensive meals and lavish gifts. A bank account linked to the college's laundry fund was used to pay loans to staff.

Well-placed sources last night told the Irish Independent the head of Garda Audit, Niall Kelly, is due to present the committee with fresh allegations today.

These are understood to centre upon the bank account in Cabra which was controlled by a retired senior member of the force.

EU funds channelled to the account are suspected of being appropriated for fraud.

The matter has been referred to GSOC and the European anti-fraud watchdog (OLAF).

The Irish Independent also understands that the Garda Fraud Squad will be called in to launch its own probe.

Ms O'Sullivan was due to submit fresh papers to spending watchdog by 4pm yesterday.

But Mr Barrett's claims will once again place the spotlight on the Garda Commissioner's future.

In his dossier, Mr Barrett said the efforts by him and others to blow the whistle met by resistance.

"A resistance which was sometimes subtle and at other times obscenely crude.

"It was a series of barriers hoisted against those who sought to identify, quantify and rectify the tangled web of abuses of taxpayers' funds," Mr Barrett said.

"I trust you and your committee will give due consideration to the degree of courage and resilience deployed by those who sought to bring these flagrant abuses of the public purse to light."

Irish Independent

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