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Tuesday 16 January 2018

Garda Commissioner's €14,000 spend on credit card revealed

Beleaguered O'Sullivan splashed out €1,339 in one transaction

May the force be with you: Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Photo: Damien Eagers
May the force be with you: Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan Photo: Damien Eagers
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has spent more than €14,000 on foreign trips, hotels, meals and other expenses since taking control of the force in March 2014, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Figures show that spending claimed on her Executive Visa Corporate credit card now stands at €14,312 and includes the period when she was Acting Commissioner before she was formally ratified as Garda Commissioner in November 2014.

O'Sullivan's husband Chief Superintendent Jim McGowan Photo: Damien Eagers
O'Sullivan's husband Chief Superintendent Jim McGowan Photo: Damien Eagers

The Commissioner provoked controversy last week following her decision to attend a policing conference in San Diego, as the country braces itself for a campaign of industrial action by rank- and-file and middle-ranking officers.

She was accompanied on the trip by a number of senior officers, including her husband, Chief Superintendent Jim McGowan.

New figures obtained by the Sunday Independent show that Commissioner O'Sullivan's credit card spending in the first six months of this year totalled €2,771.03.

Last year she claimed €7,565.72 for a range of expenditure while on official business.

In 2011, her predecessor Martin Callinan, during his time as Commissioner, incurred expenses of €2,519.38 on his Garda credit card. In 2012, the figure stood at €2,128.31, with €1,724.58 claimed in 2013.

There are currently four credit cards assigned to senior members of the force: the Garda Commissioner, the two Deputy Commissioners and the Chief Administrative Officer.

Expenses mainly relate to domestic and foreign travel, training, the purchase of publications and money spent on official engagements.

However, details of certain items paid for with Mrs O'Sullivan's credit card have been redacted by An Garda Siochana's Freedom of Information unit.

In March 2014, she took on the role of Acting Garda Commissioner, following the resignation of former Garda Commissioner Mr Callinan, who retired as the whistleblower controversy continued.

In the same month, she travelled to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, as part of the McCabe Fellowship programme. The programme was established to commemorate Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was shot dead during an attempted armed robbery in Co Limerick in June 1996.

In total, she incurred €1,517 in expenses during the trip.

Some €178 was spent in Smith & Wollensky, which specialises in prime steaks and seafood in a 'clubby, power-dining setting'.

AIB credit card statements also reveal that a day later Mrs O'Sullivan spent €1,339 in a single transaction but details were redacted by the Garda's Freedom of Information unit.

Later in the year, on September 2, the Commissioner attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando with her husband, who was at that time a Detective Superintendent in the force. Spending of $920 is listed for Mrs O'Sullivan.

A Garda spokeswoman confirmed that Mrs O'Sullivan's card was also used to pay a 'spousal rate' of $125 so that her husband could also attend. She added that Mr McGowan attended the conference in his capacity as a Superintendent in An Garda Siochana.

"Detective Superintendent McGowan's expenses were refunded by the Commissioner," the spokeswoman added.

Sunday Independent

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