Senior Gardaí: Investments were to develop Templemore facilities

Senior gardaí told the Public Accounts Committee that the controversial redistribution and investment of funds at the Garda College was done with the aim of developing facilities at the Templemore training campus.

A number of Garda managers said the general financial structures at the college appeared to have had the backing of the Department of Justice — a contention not disputed by department officials at the committee.

In the afternoon session, the committee also heard:

  • Repeated criticism of former chief administrative officer Cyril Dunne as to why he did not inform the internal auditor, the audit committee or the Comptroller and Auditor General earlier about concerns brought to him by HR chief John Barrett;
  • Confusion over Mr Dunne’s remarks that Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan had tasked him on July 27, 2015, to set up a working group to investigate the concerns and that this was separate to a steering group he had set up in early July;
  • Legal adviser Ken Ruane had expressed concerns that he felt he was being restrained by finance director Michael Culhane in raising legal issues regarding the financial irregularities with the Attorney General;
  • Deputy Commissioner Donal Ó Cualain (with responsibility for risk management) said he advised the commissioner not to take Mr Ruane’s advice in July 2015 to inform the justice minister about Templemore until a “more complete picture” was gathered first;
  • Former audit committee chair Michael Howard wrote to Garda chiefs in November 2016 complaining about a lack of candour, the need to take action and to stop “shooting the messenger”;
  • Sharp criticism of Garda civilian accountant Barry McGee (who wrote a landmark 2008 report highlighting the financial problems) over a suggestion he made to Mr Barrett that the matters should be solved “quietly” in order to prevent reputational damage if exposed —a statement Mr McGee said he retracted and regretted.

Four senior gardaí, including Deputy Commissioner Ó Cualain, Assistant Commissioner Anne-Marie McMahon, Chief Supt Margaret Nugent and Supt Pat McCabe asserted that the funding model of Templemore meant having to use monies coming mainly into the restaurant account for developing sport, educational and recreational facilities.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said the monies were not used for the purpose for which they were voted for by the Dáil and Independent TD Catherine Connolly said there was a “co-mingling” of public and private funds, which were used to invest and purchase shares in companies.

The gardaí said the department of justice was aware of the structures and even gave advice on investing surplus funds — which was not disputed by the department.

Department official Anne Barry said that despite an “exhaustive trawl” they had not been able to identify relevant records.


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