Garda college boss sat on external audit

The deputy Garda commissioner in charge of the Garda college when concerns about financial mismanagement were first raised also sat on the external audit committee overseeing financial practices.

It has emerged that deputy commissioner Nacie Rice, who retired in 2013, was the force’s representative on the otherwise all-civilian committee from 2008-12 during which time it was not told of the problems.

The public accounts committee heard last week that he wrote to the then commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, in 2009, when Mr Murphy suggested a full audit of the college, telling him the college was justified in using money it generated as it saw fit.

His report to Mr Murphy said funds generated were used to develop and improve the social and sporting culture of the college.

TD Catherine Connolly said it seems the reason nothing was done about the concerns, raised in internal reports in 2008 and 2010, was “because the man in charge of the college said, ‘Feck off, this is our money’”.

Niall Kelly, head of internal audit since 2007, told the PAC he reported to Mr Rice and despite having serious concerns about the college, was repeatedly dissuaded from pursuing them by assurances from him and others that the matters were being addressed.

The audit committee’s charter says members are responsible for monitoring the “appropriateness, efficiency, and effectiveness” of procedures relating to public procurement, sanction for spending, management of assets, accounting practices, and financial reporting.

A 2016 audit by Mr Kelly has revealed that millions of euro passed through almost 50 college bank accounts and that income generated from the rental of state lands, the college restaurant, bar, and laundry were retained and used at management’s discretion in breach of financial and other regulations.

Mr Rice’s 2009 report to Mr Murphy is being sought in full by the PAC which only received a brief summary of it. He could now be added to a list of potential witnesses being compiled for future hearings.

Efforts to contact him were unsuccessful.

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