Central Bank urged to aid Garda college probe

The Central Bank has been asked to intervene in the Garda college financial scandal by opening a fresh examination into the St Raphael’s Garda credit union.

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee sought an update on the request yesterday after a similar call was made by Garda college whistle-blower, civilian head of human resources John Barrett, amid claims management is drip-feeding information to delay probes.

Speaking during the latest PAC meeting on the ongoing controversy, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said she had requested that the committee contact the Central Bank last week seeking action on its behalf.

She said an update is now needed, and that there is a genuine reason for why the St Raphael’s Garda credit union should be examined in greater detail.

The call was echoed in an 80-page letter sent by Mr Barrett which — as reported in yesterday’s Irish Examiner — said the Central Bank should investigate transactions at the credit union since 1999.

This, he said, is because of concerns some money meant for EU funds for the college may have passed through credit union accounts instead for unknown reasons.

The development came as PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming confirmed the committee “did not receive the information” requested by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on the wider college controversy by yesterday morning.

Responding to the news, Fianna Fáil TD Marc McSharry said he believes there has been “a wilful delay from the gardai” in providing details, claiming the PAC is being “drip-fed” information.

However, Mr Fleming would only say the issue will be noted in the PAC’s report on the college financial scandal, which is due to be published in 10 days.

Meanwhile, correspondence from Garda executive director of finance Michael Culhane to the PAC yesterday said the official has now fully retracted claims Mr Barrett breached the Official Secrets Act by taking notes on what he said happened.

Other correspondence from the gardai said all Garda college-linked accounts are now closed except those that are held privately or are club accounts — an issue Mr McSharry said remains of concern.

In a separate event, the PAC met in private yesterday to finalise its separate report into claims of financial issues, lack of transparency and commercial conflicts of interest allegations surrounding several third level institutions. The PAC investigation, criticised by Skills Minister John Halligan this year for allegedly giving an unfair impression of his local college, is now due to be published next Tuesday, two days before the Dáil breaks until mid-September.

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