Gardaí to be quizzed after whistleblower quits key role

Garda management is to be questioned over the sudden resignation of Garda whistle- blower John Barrett from a key ethics committee at the Public Accounts committee today. 

Garda HR boss John Barrett quit policing ethics committee.

The officers are set to be questioned on the issue, and also on a series of other financial scandals at the Garda college, amid separate calls for the Official Secrets Act to be scrapped because it could block further Garda whistleblower revelations.

As revealed in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, the gardaí’s civilian head of human resources John Barrett has resigned from the Policing Authority’s ethics committee in response to his ongoing dispute with Garda commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and others over the Garda college scandal.

It is understood Mr Barrett, who attended a lengthy Dáil PAC meeting on the issue two weeks ago, felt he could not continue in the role as a representative on the ethics committee.

“Mr Barrett informed the committee that he would be stepping aside from his role in relation to the rollout of the code of ethics by the Garda Síochána,” a Policing Authority statement said on Monday.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner last night, PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming said the issue will be formally raised with the Policing Authority when it attends the PAC alongside Garda commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and the Department of Justice next week.

Today’s full-day PAC meeting on the Garda college will see a number of senior officials attend, including Garda assistant commissioners, deputy commissioners, the author of the 2008 garda college audit and other high-ranking officials.

In addition to Mr Barrett’s resignation, it is expected they will be grilled on the escalating financial crisis at the Garda college, which includes: n Concerns about when Ms O’Sullivan first knew of the issue. n Claims that large quantities of cheques were given to gardaí for unvouched expenses, potentially including trips to Australia. n Allegations that some funds were transferred to an account controlled by a former senior Garda officer. n Unanswered questions over whether five secret bank accounts linked to the Garda college are breaching tax laws.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats last night said Mr Barrett’s resignation means the Officials Secrets’ Act must be scrapped as it is blocking garda whistle-blowers from speaking out.

“We have whistleblower legislation which seems wholly inadequate for public servants, including members of An Garda Siochana and the Defence Forces,” said PAC member and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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