Latest: Seanad suspended after IRA comments cause uproar

Latest: Seanad suspended after IRA comments cause uproar

Update 6.50pm: Fianna Fáil says Sinn Féin's attempt to remove the Garda Commissioner from her job is the first time the party democratically tried to do so.

Senator Diarmuid Wilson says for 35 years Sinn Féin's "colleagues in the IRA" removed Gardaí by murdering them.

The comments in the Seanad earlier today led to Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile reacting angrily and the upper house was suspended as a result.

"Over a period of 35 years their colleagues in the IRA have removed over 24 members of An Garda Siochana... (comments interrupted by shouting)"

Update 1.15pm: Taoiseach Enda Kenny has again given his backing to the Garda Commissioner - after claims she misled the Public Accounts Committee with her evidence last week.

Nóirín O'Sullivan has also under fire after she didn't inform the Justice Minister of financial irregularities at the training college in Templemore when she was told of the issue in 2015.

Opposition parties have pointed out in the Dáil that the Commissioner was legally obliged to do this and asked how the Taoiseach can continue to have confidence in her to do the job.

Latest: Seanad suspended after IRA comments cause uproar

“If money was shifted, or if money was misappropriated, or if money was diverted, as we now have some evidence of what happened in Templemore, it was this Commissioner who actually has taken action on this, to find out what exactly has happened here,” said the Taoiseach.

“And that’s why it’s necessary that the Public Accounts Committee should be allowed to do its job, and finish its report.”

Latest: Seanad suspended after IRA comments cause uproar

Update 11.27am: Justice Minister has said that every side of the story needs to be heard about an alleged cover up by Gardaí.

It follows evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee by Garda Head of HR John Barrett which suggests the Garda Commissioner was informed of financial issues at Templemore College in July 2015.

She was then advised that she was legally obliged to inform the Minister of Justice, but didn't do so at that stage.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that it was at Nóirín O'Sullivan's discretion.

“I’ve no doubt the Garda Commissioner gets a whole range of legal advice,” she said.

“On any one piece of legal advice, she runs An Garda Siochana, she’s responsible for the operations of An Garda Siochana, the day-to-management, she makes a decision based on that.

“I think the important point here is that we need to see the full story – why action wasn’t taken more speedily.”

Earlier:

The Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has said the Government still has confidence in the Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.

However, he has described financial irregularities at Templemore as "very grave".

Evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by John Barrett, Garda Head of Human Resources, suggests the Commissioner was informed of financial irregularities at Templemore College in July 2015.

Noirin O'Sullivan says it was discussed in a brief meeting over a cup of tea, however Mr Barrett's evidence says a two-hour meeting was held.

She has rejected claims that she in any way misled the Public Accounts Committee.

The Commissioner separately received advise that she was legally obliged to inform the Minister of Justice about the issues at Templemore, but she indicated she did not do so until more than a year later.

Latest: Seanad suspended after IRA comments cause uproar

Commissioner O'Sullivan said: "It was very important that in order for us to be fully informed and to be in a position to fully inform the Minister."

Mr Varadkar told Newstalk Breakfast: "It involves a flagrant misuse of taxpayers money, and of course it involves the Gardaí - and the Gardaí are people who are charged with upholding the law.

"They have an extra responsibility to obey the law and the spirit of the law.

"It is something that is being examined by the Public Accounts Committee at present. External auditors have been brought in.

"Of course there is a conflict of evidence between Commissioner O'Sullivan and Mr Barrett, and I think we need to have that teased out before jumping to any further conclusions."

Labour TD and PAC member Alan Kelly says the Commissioner has to go.

Deputy Kelly said: "The force is in crisis. She's lost the confidence, I believe, of the force. She's lost the confidence of her civilian management team. She's lost the confidence of the Oireachtas.

"I believe she should go," he added. "I believe she failed in her duties, she should have informed the Minister, and I believe, yes, the Government should remove her as Commissioner."


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