'It's like having a strip club in a seminary' - Gardai to reopen controversial bar in Templemore training college
Garda management is considering reopening the controversial bar in the force's training college in Templemore, Co Tipperary.
However, it is understood senior gardai have raised serious concerns over the appropriateness of serving alcohol where new recruits are being trained to become officers.
The training college's bar was at the centre of a financial irregularities scandal which led to a damning Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report. The bar has been closed for the last two years.
Senior sources said if the bar is to reopen, the premises' finances will be above board and it will be operated in a fully transparent manner.
At a recent Garda management meeting, Assistant Commissioner Fintan Fanning proposed that the training college's bar should remain permanently closed as it was not necessary to provide alcohol on site to new recruits.
Mr Fanning, who is one of the country's most experienced gardai, told the meeting he did not believe selling alcohol in the college sent a good message to new recruits.
"It's like having a strip club in a seminary," a senior source said.
However, since that meeting, it has been officially proposed that the Templemore College bar should reopen, and it has emerged gardai applied for a new liquor licence.
On Tuesday, Garda Commissioner Donall O'Cualain will discuss reopening the scandal-hit bar with his assistant commissioners and it is expected they will back the proposal.
Last year, the bar at the Garda College was forced to pay €38,000 in unpaid taxes to the Revenue Commissioner. The PAC also questioned financial arrangements linked to the bar and other services operating in the training college.
Gardai are also working on a drugs and alcohol policy for gardai. There are currently no guidelines for officers and, unlike other police forces, garda recruits are never subjected to drug tests.
"An Garda Siochana is currently liaising with the representative bodies on the introduction of a drugs and alcohol policy," a spokes- person said.