Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan blocked attempts by the State’s auditor to gain access to minutes of senior management meetings of the force, it can be revealed.
According to internal documents, seen by the Irish Examiner, the Comptroller and Auditor General had requested access to the minutes of “MAC meetings” denied by Ms O’Sullivan because of “sensitive matters relating to State security”.
The news comes as the commissioner was yesterday presented with an internal audit report into alleged financial irregularities at the force’s training college at Templemore.
The correspondence seen by the Irish Examiner reveals that Ms O’Sullivan was presented a draft copy of an internal audit report into the misspending of EU funding just 24 hours before her appearance before the Public Accounts Committee today.
The force’s head of audit, Niall Kelly, sent the Commissioner a draft report of ‘EU funded programmes and projects’, which is related to the committee’s ongoing investigation of where European money given for training courses ended up.
It has been reported that as much as 5% of the money given by EU law enforcement agency, CEPOL, may have been diverted into a Cabra-based bank account and used for entertainment.
Ms O’Sullivan is under fire over the ongoing controversy at the training college at Templemore in Tipperary and her appearance today is seen as make or break.
But the documents make clear that an explicit request from the C&AG’s office for access to senior management minutes was denied.
“Due to the very sensitive nature of some matters recorded in the minutes, the Commissioner has directed that the MAC minutes should not be distributed beyond the members of the management team,” the letter from Michael Culhane to the C&AG said.
“These sensitive issues relate to State security and ongoing policing operations including references to certain sensitive investigations and named individuals. I do not believe that an edited version of the minutes would address your requirements.”
He went on to attempt to soften the blow by ensuring the C&AG that “no matters contained in the MAC minutes would have an adverse effect on the information already provided”.
Ms O’Sullivan, who has faced calls for her resignation, will face several hours of detailed questions from the PAC today over matters relating to Templemore and other ongoing controversies.
Ahead of the meeting, PAC chairman Seán Fleming said: “The findings of an internal audit carried out by An Garda Síochána have highlighted serious issues in relation to financial controls and management of funds at the Garda College in Templemore.”
“The committee will continue its examination of matters related to the Garda Interim Audit Report on Financial Procedures in the Garda College when we will hear from Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.”
“We will be keen to discuss financial controls, compliance and how corporate governance is exercised in relation to the College,” the TD said.
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