Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin has apologised to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for misleading it over the release of a report into the controvesial re-opening of Stepaside Garda Station.
At a meeting of the committee in July under questioning from Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, Mr Ó Cualáin told members that an internal report would be made available in a matter of days, but to date the report has not been released.
The delay in providing the report to the PAC was yesterday slammed by its chairman Seán Fleming, who demanded full transparency.
Controversy arose during the summer over the decision to re-open Stepaside station, a key demand of Transport Minister Shane Ross, but the Government insisted it was done purely for “operational reasons”.
In correspondence to the committee, seen by the Irish Examiner, Mr Ó Cualáin explained he noted their request for the report, but said he is not in a position to provide it at this stage.
“Unfortunately, I find myself unable to provide a copy of the report at this time. The interim report was prepared for the Minister for Justice and Equality and accordingly it is a matter for the Department to approve the release of their document,” he said.
“In that regard, I am aware that the Secretary General has written to the Committee indicating that it would be inappropriate for the Department to release their report at this time.”
Mr Ó Cualáin added that in the circumstances “you will appreciate that I do not have the authority to provide a copy of their report to the Committee”.
“I recognise that the matter was discussed at a meeting of the Committee in July this year and that I had indicated that the report could be provided. However, I should not have made that commitment as I did not have the authority to agree to the release of the Department’s report. I want to apologise to the Committee for the error on my part.”
Mr Ó Cualáin said he is very keen to support the work of the committee.
“I expect the final version of the station reopening report to be provided to the Minister towards the end of October. I am sure that the publication of this final version will provide an appropriate opportunity for a full discussion on this very important issue,” he added.
In a separate letter to the PAC, also seen by the Irish Examiner, the secretary general of the Department of Justice Noel Waters confirmed the refusal to give the interim report to the PAC. He told the PAC it would be inappropriate to release the report ahead of getting the final report, which he said was due in the coming weeks.
“The department has been informed that work is ongoing in An Garda Síochána to complete a final report on the Garda station reopening pilot project. This is expected to be received shortly, at which point it will be brought to Government,” the department said.
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