Garda commissioner’s evidence disputed at hearing

Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan
Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee has heard evidence contradicting the Garda commissioner’s account of when she learned about financial irregularities at Templemore training college.

Nóirín O’Sullivan previously said she first learned of issues at the college on July 27, 2015, over a cup of tea with the head of garda human resources, John Barrett.

However, yesterday at the PAC, it was heard that Ms O’Sullivan was told of “issues” during the first week of July 2015.

“Around the first week in July, I told the commissioner that John (Barrett) had raised issues with me. I didn’t detail any of those issues,” Cyril Dunne said yesterday.

Mr Dunne was the chief administrative officer in the force from 2013 to 2015.

“Just to be clear, what I said to the commissioner at that time, around about the first week in July, I told her that John (Barrett) had identified issues in Templemore, that I needed to get a lot more information.

“I told her that I would be going down to the college myself and that I’d brief her when I had that more detail,” he stated.

PAC member, Labour TD, Alan Kelly said Mr Dunne’s account was a “direct contradiction” of evidence previously given to the committee.

“Just to point out, it’s a direct contradiction of the evidence given by two witnesses here the last day.

“It (Mr Dunne’s asserted date) still is before the commissioner said she first found out from the letter on July 24, that was discussed on July 27,” Mr Kelly told Mr Dunne.

“If a commissioner comes in here and says one thing, and it’s contradicted now three times…” Mr Kelly said.

The irregularities stem from a report by the Garda’s Internal Audit Section examining financial transactions over a number of years at Templemore.

Concerns in the report included the use of public money for entertainment, gifts and for clubs and societies.

The report also referred to a private company, known as The Garda Síochána Sportsfield Co Ltd, that had land associated with it and a number of the college’s management team as its directors.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 bans gardaí from being involved in land contracts.

One of its directors, Assistant Commissioner Anne-Marie McMahon, gave evidence at PAC yesterday where she said no returns had been filed over a two-year period.

“In 2015, my understanding is and the returns are being compiled at the moment for the intervening years (2015 and 2016),” Ms McMahon said when asked when the company last filed a tax return.

Other revelations made at yesterday’s sitting of the Public Accounts Committee, included Mr Dunne stating he had only read two extracts from the internal audit, not the entire report.

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