Wednesday 22 November 2017

O'Sullivan urged to 'correct Dáil record' on Templemore

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has been asked for a response to John Barrett’s letter to the PAC. Picture: Mark Condren
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has been asked for a response to John Barrett’s letter to the PAC. Picture: Mark Condren
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Garda human resources boss John Barrett has urged Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to "correct the Dáil record" about when she first learned of financial irregularities at Templemore Training College.

Mr Barrett made the appeal to Ms O'Sullivan in a letter provided to the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and TDs have now sought a formal response from Ms O'Sullivan to his remarks.

The PAC is examining a report by the Garda internal audit unit that uncovered financial irregularities at the training college.

Ms O'Sullivan has insisted she was first told about issues at a brief meeting over a cup of tea in Templemore on July 27, 2015.

She told the PAC last month she took immediate action to establish a working group to deal with the issue.

Mr Barrett was also appearing at the committee and he disputed Ms O'Sullivan's account, insisting the meeting was more than two hours long.Witnesses at subsequent PAC meetings have contradicted Ms O'Sullivan's account of when she first learned of the issues at Templemore.

Mr Barrett wrote to Ms O'Sullivan earlier this month.

In the letter he said he was "advised" that former Garda chief administrative officer Cyril Dunne brought "these matters of critical concern" to her attention as early as June 30, 2015, or early July that year.

Read More: Surge in number of whistleblower complaints to garda watchdog

He also said: "It is clear from evidence given at the PAC... that your assertion that you were first informed of these matters on July 27, 2015, is not correct and I would respectfully suggest that you correct the Dáil record in that regard and also with respect to the actual duration of the meeting on the evening of July 27, 2015."

The letter - which was received by the PAC on Tuesday - was discussed briefly at Ms O'Sullivan's appearance at the committee that day.

Ms O'Sullivan stood by her insistence she first learned the details of the concerns over Templemore on July 27.

She told TDs that on one occasion Mr Dunne told her he wouldn't be in the office the following day as he was going to Templemore. She said Mr Dunne told her Mr Barrett had brought certain matters to his attention but he didn't brief her on the issues involved at that time.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane put it to Ms O'Sullivan that Mr Barrett said in his letter her evidence was not correct.

Ms O'Sullivan replied: "I am not clear as to what part of my evidence Mr Barrett says is incorrect."

Earlier, Ms O'Sullivan was asked about the contradiction between Mr Barrett's claim that the meeting lasted more than two hours, and her own account.

Ms O'Sullivan said in her experience "different people have different recollections of events. I have no reason to dispute Mr Barrett's recollection but I can only give... my recollection".

At yesterday's PAC meeting Mr Cullinane said Mr Barrett's letter shows the "clear contradiction" between his understanding of what happened and Ms O'Sullivan's understanding and said the issue is "quite serious".

Chairman Seán Fleming said the PAC would request a response from Ms O'Sullivan's to the contents of Mr Barrett's letter by Wednesday. He said there was an "element of hearsay" in Mr Barrett's statement he was "advised" that Ms O'Sullivan was told about Templemore before July 27.

The PAC agreed to seek details from him of who told him this.

Irish Independent

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