Garda HR boss quits police ethics committee in row over ‘crime’ letter

John Barrett

The civilian head of human resources in An Garda Siochána, John Barrett, who found himself in conflict with the Garda Commissioner, has stepped down as the force’s representative on the Policing Authority’s Ethics committee.

Mr Barrett informed the authority that he was stepping down last Thursday — eight days after he told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that he was appalled that an internal letter in Garda management suggested he may be guilty of a crime for reporting financial irregularities at the Garda Training College.

Garda sources suggest that Mr Barrett felt unable to continue as a representative on the committee following the evidence that was heard at the PAC on May 31.

The Policing Authority yesterday issued a statement to the Irish Examiner confirming Mr Barrett’s departure.

“Mr Barrett informed the committee that he would be stepping aside from his role in relation to the rollout of the Code of Ethics by the Garda Síochána,” said the statement”. 

The committee expressed its appreciation to Mr Barrett for the work he had done in relation to the Code of Ethics project to date.”

The authority’s draft code of ethics published last September was hailed as an important step in reforming aspects of Garda culture.

Mr Barrett’s relationship with Garda management, and particularly with commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, deteriorated sharply in recent months as the PAC began investigating the misuse of public funds at the Templemore training college.

At the May 31 hearing, the PAC was told that a letter from the force’s executive director for finance Michael Culhane to Ms O’Sullivan suggested that Mr Barrett wanted to intentionally damage the force by reporting the irregularities.

Mr Barrett was the first member of senior management to raise a flag about the irregularities at the Templemore.

Mr Barrett told the PAC he had attempted to get sight of the letter from the commissioner six times, but had failed to do so and had only seen it after it was furnished to the politicians.

He claimed he was obstructed in attempting to get to the bottom of the issue and that he was “appalled” at how his efforts had been portrayed in the letter.

“The interesting inversion of trust that was presented to you appalls me,” said Mr Barrett. 

“We requested legitimately a letter written about me that I had no knowledge of that alleges a potential criminal offence. Rights of natural justice, constitutional procedure — none of that existed — and I discovered it yesterday as being included in the pack to this committee.”


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