Wednesday 22 November 2017

Fury after cash paid by gardai for laundry went to 'slush fund'

Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan
Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Rank-and-file gardai are furious after monies they paid for laundry services were channelled to the now notorious "slush fund" at the Templemore Training College in Tipperary.

The Herald has learned that trainee gardai coughed thousands of euro to have their bed sheets and clothes washed, but large amounts of the money went to subsidise the Garda Boat Club and meals for senior officers.

Senior members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) are set to call for a full investigation, sources said.

Officers who trained in Templemore paid 20 cent per week for their laundry, which included sheets, bed linen, uniform and casual clothes.

The bill for an average officer totalled more than €10 per year.


But with tens of thousands of trainees entering Templemore, the laundry bill would have ran into six figures.

Last night, a senior GRA source said officers will be seeking some form of recompense.

"This whole scandal has demoralised the rank-and-file. We are demanding answers," the source told the Herald.

There was also expenditure on flowers, jewellery, meals and entertainment.

A sense of unease could be detected within both political and garda circles yesterday following the dramatic events that unfolded this week.

However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald have continued to defend Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.

The 120-page report by garda HR boss John Barrett quoted a former boss saying "there is never just one cockroach" as he outlined his concerns over finances at Templemore.

The audit itself detailed the buying of gifts, spending on entertainment and sponsoring garda clubs.

It found that concerns about financial irregularities were first expressed more than a decade ago.

Mr Barrett, a senior civilian, was appointed executive director of human resources - a role that has responsibility for the garda college - in October 2014.

A whole section of Mr Barrett's own extensive report, sent to the Public Accounts Committee, is dedicated to the cultural lessons he argues must be learned.

Mr Barrett said that gardai "as guardians of the public purse, need to understand how our internal guard dogs did not bark" and "most especially how this came to happen over many years".

Mr Barrett added that this is because, as his former boss at another organisation used to tell him, "John, there is never just one cockroach".

He concluded the section of his report saying that he is of the "clear view that there are very clear cultural lessons to be learned from this history".

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