Thursday 23 November 2017

Allegations garda college had 'off-shore bank accounts' revealed in PAC documents

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Niall O’Connor & Philip Ryan

A senior civilian in An Garda Síochána warned that the Templemore spending scandal would see people "led away in handcuffs", according to an explosive new dossier obtained by the Irish Independent.

The documents also reveal how the Head of Garda Audit, Niall Kelly, alleged that the Garda college in Tipperary had "offshore bank accounts".

And it’s claimed that an "altercation" took place in Garda Headquarters last November amid bitter tensions between officers involved in investigating the financial scandal.

The dossier, which runs into hundreds of pages, shows clearly that the scandal surrounding the notorious ‘slush fund’ runs far deeper than previously feared.

It reveals how a bank account linked to the laundry services at the college was used to pay staff loans, and fund bonuses, entertainment and sporting expenses.

And it shows that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan turned down advice that she should immediately notify Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald about the financial irregularities.

The new information that can now be revealed includes:

Claims by the head of Finance and Services, Michael Culhane, that the Head of Garda Audit, Niall Kelly, warned that "people would be led away in handcuffs".

It is also alleged Mr Kelly told an administrator he believed the College had "offshore bank accounts".

Mr Culhane also claimed an "altercation" took place in Garda HQ when Mr Kelly sought access to specific emails.

Comparisons were made between the college and the scandal-hit charity Console.

EU training funds for police were funnelled into the infamous college laundry fund.

And there are allegations that the Head of HR, John Barrett, "wasted" €30,000 on consultants.

The allegations are contained in a letter sent by Mr Culhane to Mr Kelly in February. It is part of a dossier that will now be probed by the Public Accounts Committee. (PAC)

When contacted by the Irish Independent on Wednesday night, Mr Kelly – who has spearheaded the audit – said he did not wish to comment on the claims. Mr Barrett did not respond to a request for comment.

 All three civilians are expected to be called in front of the PAC next week.

The dossier itself also gives fresh detail surrounding the bank account linked to the laundry services at the training college.

It’s stated that there were "certain malpractices" linked to the laundry service that would be "disallowable under normal circumstances".

And the documents detail how the account was used to give loans to staff, pay bonuses and fund entertainment and sporting expenses.

It was found that there was a lack of "financial control" over the laundry account which received €1 each from every student through an account linked to the college restaurant.

The laundry bank account also received money from European Union (EU) training funds designated for police forces.

Separately, the head of the new commission on the future of policing has called for an end to finger pointing and name calling.

Kathleen O’Toole said the current Garda management team had inherited a poisoned chalice.

"It makes no difference whether it is Nóirín O’Sullivan or anybody else in charge of the Garda force," she said.

"We are not going to engage in finger pointing and name calling. We need to get beyond that and look to the future".

Ms O’Toole made the comments after its first meeting in Dublin yesterday.

Online Editors

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