An Garda Siochána has just 24 hours to confirm it is tax compliant to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee amid an ongoing Revenue examination of its accounts in response to the Garda College financial scandal.
Members of the PAC confirmed the looming deadline at the launch of the periodic report into the PAC’s work, saying the issue must be resolved once and for all.
During a months-long investigation last year, the college in Templemore was repeatedly put under the spotlight due to serious financial issues, whistleblower accusations, and claims the issue was being covered up.
However, while the majority of the issues have since been resolved, it has emerged that concerns An Garda Síochána and the college are not tax compliant have yet to be fully addressed almost one year on.
Speaking at the publication of the PAC’s periodic report, a number of committee members confirmed that while they have repeatedly sought clarity from the gardaí alongside Revenue, it is still unclear if the gardaí are tax compliant.
Labour TD Alan Kelly said the force has until “the end of the month” to confirm it is tax compliant, while Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said this is because the college still has five tax numbers when it should have one.
Fine Gael TD Peter Burke said he was particularly concerned about the issue when it first emerged under PAC questioning a year ago, and said it is unacceptable the issue has yet to be entirely resolved.
Supporting his PAC colleagues, committee chair and Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming repeated the deadline for the gardaí to clarify the matter, saying they must provide a clear tax certificate to the PAC by the end of this month or face further questioning.
Under PAC questioning last year, the chief administrative officer of the Garda college, Joe Nugent, said there were five Garda tax numbers at Templemore and they were in “discussions with Revenue about four”.
Asked were the accounts up to date, he said his “understanding” was that returns had been made and were “the subject of discussions with Revenue”.
Mr Nugent said at the time the “nub of the problem” was that some entities were not Garda ones, but said some of the directors of one the accounts, Sportsfield, were senior gardaí.
During the discussions last year, PAC chair Mr Fleming said the situation was “extraordinary” and said there was the “possibility of a substantial liability”.
However, despite a previous deadline to the PAC to clarify the matter, the Garda College and Garda authorities failed to do so last year, with Revenue subsequently examining the situation.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved