Auditors: Garda ‘culture of conformity strong’

It will take “some time” for people with a critical viewpoint inside An Garda Síochána to be fully accepted as “constructive and loyal members”, the organisation’s audit body has said.

The Garda Audit Committee said it was “the experience” of the committee that a culture of “conformity, unity, and loyalty” was strong in the force.

In its 2017 annual report, it said there were “pockets of resistance” internally to the reform agenda.

The audit committee said the “professional tensions” identified in the report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), published last July, reflected the internal differences regarding transparency and accountability.

That PAC report was the result of intensive, and sometimes fractious, hearings on the interim report by the head of internal audit Niall Kelly into Templemore Garda College.

In the annual report of the audit committee, Cyril Sullivan highlighted the challenge of cultural change in the organisation.

It is the experience of the committee that a culture of conformity, unity, and loyalty is strong in An Garda Síochána and it will take some time and effort before those with divergent or critical views are fully accepted in some parts of the organisation, as being constructive and loyal members of An Garda Síochána.

Dr Sullivan is an accountant and former auditor with the Comptroller and Auditor General. Other members of the committee include Niamh Brennan, head of accounting and associate dean for research at the UCD School of Business; Aine Cornally, a senior banker in Bank of Ireland; Anne Tynan, an auditor and former senior civil servant; and Joseph Nugent, Garda chief administrative officer.

In relation to the professional tensions raised in the PAC report, Dr Sullivan wrote: “It is the view of the Committee that these tensions arise from differences relating to the need to have full transparency and accountability at all levels within An Garda Síochána.

“It is evident that pockets of resistance to the reform agenda and the need for full transparency exist from within parts of An Garda Síochána.”

He said the situation was getting better, thanks to the support of the acting Garda commissioner, Dónall Ó Cualáin, the office of the chief administrative officer, and the HR department.

The chairman said the Garda College had seen “significant improvement” in the financial controls introduced in 2017, with “improvements” also noticed in the areas of property and exhibit management and fixed charge notice cancellations.

The report said 16 cases of suspected fraud had been referred to the head of internal audit in 2017 — separate to the EU funds probe by Gsoc.

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