'Scheduling conflict' behind acting Garda Commissioner's absence from Oireachtas committee

'Scheduling conflict' behind acting Garda Commissioner's absence from Oireachtas committee
Acting Garda Commissioner Donall O Cualain

The failure of a top Garda official to appear before an Oireachtas committee creates difficulties, a TD has warned.

Clare Daly expressed concern over the absence of acting commissioner Donall O Cualain who had been due to give evidence to the justice committee today.

She said: "It won't be happening again. The next time a meeting will be organised.

"We will come in any time of the day or night but it won't be happening again."

Ms Daly said there was "no point" not being able to directly challenge the acting commissioner on issues.

She said: "It does make our job very difficult."

The committee was informed that Mr O Cualain was out of the country.

Justice committee chair Caoimhghin O Caolain said: "This is the second time we would have addressed this very important issue of the homicide review and the acting commissioner has not been in attendance on either of those two occasions and I know it is a matter of concern for members of the committee."

Mr O Caolain also asked why acting deputy commissioner John Twomey had not come before the committee instead.

Joseph Nugent, Garda chief administrative officer, said there had been a number of scheduling clashes.

"Acting commissioner O Cualain is out of the country and is therefore unable to attend this morning," he said.

"I hear what the committee is saying, it certainly was not his intention to avoid questioning here.

It was literally an issue of scheduling conflict.

Mr Nugent said Mr Twomey was representing Mr O Cualain at a graduating ceremony of student officers at Templemore training college.

The committee chair welcomed the clarification.

"I have no doubt you would appreciate that it has been the historic practice in relation to representation before the committee that the commissioner or acting commissioner would indeed be the lead officer in attendance and there have been concerns expressed to me by committee members and I would be very remiss if I didn't open by seeking that clarification," he said.

- PA


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