Latest: Taoiseach needs to act decisively to remove Garda Commissioner, says Mary Lou McDonald

Update 10.43pm: Opposition parties have once again called on Noirin O'Sullivan to step down or be removed as Garda Commissioner.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald says the Taoiseach can't hide behind the summer recess to try to protect the Commissioner.

"Leo Varadkar may be minded, it being the silly season and the sun shining an' all, that these matters can wait - this can't wait," she said.

"Public confidence demands now that the Tasoiseach, as head of Government, acts - and he needs to act decisively and soon."

Update 8pm: Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming has said that his party continue to have "diminished" confidence in Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan after today's report from the Public Accounts Committee.

The party said that it wants the Policing Authority to ensure the findings of the report on the Garda Training College in Templemore are implemented.

"There's a clear timetable for all the recommendations to be implemented in full, there's a clear timetable for the Policing Authority to oversee her work," he said.

"The most important thing for the Garda Síochána and the guards on the street is that that work is dealt with, not interrupted by the political banter about whether she should go or not, because that would not necessarily address all the issues.

"So today, the Fianna Fáil party have said, as we have been saying, that we have diminished confidence in her, but not to the point of having no confidence in her."

Earlier, the Policing Authority said it will be reviewing aspects of corporate governance in the force.

"The Authority has noted the significant findings and recommendations published this afternoon by the Committee of Public Accounts in relation to Financial Procedures at the Garda College in Templemore.

"These will be examined and considered formally at the next Authority meeting on 27 July.

"At that meeting the Authority will also be assessing the implementation by the Garda Síochána of its Internal Audit Reports on these matters as part of its preparation for reporting to the Minister for Justice and Equality in the coming weeks.

"As part of its 2017 corporate priorities signed off in January and published, the Authority is undertaking a review of aspects of the corporate governance in the Garda Síochána.

"The recommendations in the Committee’s report in relation to structures and governance of the Garda Síochána are very timely and will be of relevance to that work."

Update 4.37pm: Labour TD Alan Kelly has called on Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan to resign following the publication of a report by the Public Accounts Committee.

The report states that it was "unacceptable" for Commissioner O'Sullivan to withhold information about the financial issue at Templemore from both the State auditor, and the Department of Justice.

"The Garda Commissioner's position is totally untenable," said Deputy Kelly.

"The Government are in a position where they have to act."

Committee chairman Sean Fleming of Fianna Fáil does not agree, however.

"They have a responsibility to ensure the Garda Síochána management, which includes the Commissioner, and other senior people in the Garda Síochána, implement this report," he said.

The Government is holding firm on her position, with Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan saying that he is confident that Noirin O'Sullivan can overhaul Garda culture.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said: "I haven't seen the PAC report, so... I certainly have confidence in the Garda Commissioner at the moment, yes," he said.

Earlier:

By Fiachra O Cionnaith and Cormac O Keeffe

A damning cross-party report into the Garda College financial scandal has accused Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan of repeatedly failing to address the controversy.

The Dáil public accounts committee report, which was published this afternoon, made the finding in addition to raising serious concerns about what it said was an attempt by officers to keep the controversy from public view.

The report said Ms O’Sullivan failed in her duties by taking 10 months to inform the Department of Justice and the Comptroller and Auditor General of the financial issues when she was informed of them in June-July 2015.

It also said the delay, described as "unacceptable", was added to by the fact there has been a "failure" to address "issues at the Garda college for 10 years".

The PAC report also said there was interference in the internal garda audit’s work and that the internal watchdog is being blocked from being independent.

In addition, it raised concerns about EU grants and said this money - which is the subject of an EU anti-fraud probe - should be immediately repaid.

The PAC report cannot make any direct findings against individuals.

However, it said there is a "culture within An Garda Síochána" of withholding information" and that it has been given "satisfactory evidence" no sufficient checks were made on garda college-linked accounts.

It said a review of both the Department of Justice’s oversight of the Garda college and internal auditing transparency must now be reviewed.

NOTED

Reacting to the report today the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, said in a statement that he had  noted the publication.

“The findings and recommendations of the PAC Report will be examined carefully to see what actions are necessary and appropriate on foot of them.

"This report follows on from the Interim Audit Report by the Garda Internal Audit Service in relation to the financial procedures in the Garda College and published in March 2017.

The Garda authorities have stated that they understand the gravity of the issues identified in the Interim Audit Report and are taking comprehensive steps to progress its recommendations as quickly as possible.

The independent Policing Authority is also overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of the Interim Audit Report and I expect to receive its first report shortly.

“Further investigations are underway including an investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission on foot of a referral from the Commissioner of suspected fraudulent activity in relation to certain EU training funds.

“The culture of the organisation is also referred to in the PAC report. The need for cultural change is at the heart of the extensive programme of reform underway in An Garda Síochána based on the reports of the Garda Inspectorate and under the independent oversight of the Policing Authority.

"A key reform in this regard is the plan to increase the number of civilians in the organisation to bring a new perspective including at the senior management levels. An Executive Director of Strategy and Transformation has recently been appointed to head up the reform programme and two further senior appointments are in train.

“The only way to deliver world class policing in Ireland is to ensure that An Garda Síochána has the resources it needs and that those resources operate in an organisation whose culture is open and responsive and where the best management systems and practices are deployed.

"We are confident that the reform plan that is being pursued by the Commissioner, supported by the Government and overseen by the Policing Authority, has the capacity to achieve this. It will not be done overnight and it will not be done easily, but with the necessary support and oversight, it can be achieved over the next four years.

“In addition the work of the Commission on the Future of Policing is well underway and I was pleased to meet the Commission this week.”


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