Former Garda commissioners including Martin Callinan could be hauled before a powerful Dáil committee over the Garda college financial scandal due to the scale of the crisis, writes Fiachra O Cionnaith, Irish Examiner Political Correspondent.
The cross-party public accounts committee confirmed the potential move on Thursday morning as the controversy continues to threaten both the future of Garda commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
In a detailed discussion after whistleblower John Barrett released 122 pages of documents on Tuesday alleging years of cover-up of what happened, PAC members said officials other than Ms O'Sullivan may now have to be brought in for further questioning.
Labour's Alan Kelly, Sinn Fein's David Cullinane and Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fail's Marc MacSharry said the scale of the crisis means former Garda commissioners including Martin Callinan should be requested to attend for questioning.
Mr Cullinane in particular said the meetings should take place over the coming weeks and should be co-ordinated to allow for a detailed PAC report on what happened.
He said these meetings should also include individual discussions with the head of the Garda audit committee, its chief accounting officer and other individuals who should be allowed to speak with the PAC "without their boss [Ms O'Sullivan] beside them".
Fine Gael TD Josepha Madigan said the move, and the involvement of former Garda commissioners, should be considered.
However, her party colleague Alan Farrell said the investigation should be handed over to State financial watchdog the Comptroller and Auditor General as the C&AG is the "competent authority" to examine evidence.
Mr Farrell repeated comments he made to the Irish Examiner last night, saying the C&AG should set up a "special investigation" into events and that this could be used as evidence in further legal cases if necessary.
He described the focus on Ms O'Sullivan as risking becoming a "witch hunt" if the PAC was allowed to control the investigation, a claim strongly rejected by other PAC members.
PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming asked that all committee members provide a list of documents and potential witnesses they want to attend by the group's meeting next Thursday.
He said a decision will then be made on what action to take, with the likelihood that the first witness to attend at that stage will be Ms O'Sullivan the following week due to a series of contradictions between her evidence and that of whistleblower, civilian head of Garda Human Resources, John Barrett.
The development came as it emerged Fianna Fáil TDs have discussed the possibility of a no confidence motion in Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who like other Government ministers continues to support the Garda commissioner.
While Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin is reluctant to make the move at this stage, such a move would place further pressure on Government to remove Ms O'Sullivan.