herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Garda college audit discovers dozens of bank accounts

Niall Kelly
Niall Kelly

A damning internal audit of the Garda training college uncovered dozens of bank accounts.

Senior civilian officials also could not say last night if organisations linked to the training college at Templemore were tax compliant.

At a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), TDs demanded more information about its tax affairs within 24 hours.

Fine Gael TD Peter Burke asked how many tax numbers were assigned to the Garda. Chief administrative officer Joseph Nugent said there are five: the main tax number for An Garda Siochana, one for Sportsfield - a company linked to the Training College - and three more for the restaurant, bar and shop at Templemore.

He added that some of the entities, like the bar, have been wound up.

The PAC was also told by the Garda's head of legal affairs Ken Ruane that he was asked to change minutes he took of an internal steering group on Templemore.

Mr Ruane told TDs that former chief administration officer Cyril Dunne asked him to change the notes because they contained an inappropriate level of detail.

He was asked to change them to a style set out by the Department of Public Expenditure.

Incredible

Mr Ruane said he would do this but also retained his original notes, which were provided to TDs.

Labour Party TD Alan Kelly described this revelation as "incredible".

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was urged to tell Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald about financial irregularities at Templemore as early as the middle of July 2015, the PAC heard.

Mr Ruane said he felt concerns about financial matters at the institution were serious enough to ask Ms O'Sullivan to invoke the law on accountability and protecting the public confidence of the force.

The PAC has been examining issues raised over the leasing out of land and some of the money being spent on entertaining and retirement gifts.

An audit by Niall Kelly, the head of the Garda's internal audit unit, uncovered multiple bank accounts, a €5m surplus and investment policies related to the college.

Mr Kelly confirmed he was running two other audits.

One was on controls of cash in the Templemore restaurant, shop, bar and current banking arrangements, and the other was on the use of EU funds by the force, going back to 1998.

An AIB bank account in Cabra is being examined as part of the second audit, the committee heard.

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