herald

Friday 20 April 2018

Pressure on Garda boss to cut five-week break short after PAC report

Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan
Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan is under pressure to cut short her holiday amid ongoing crises to hit the gardai.

It emerged Ms O'Sullivan is to take a five-week break on the same day the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) publish a damning report on the handling of concerns over serious financial irregularities at Templemore Training College.

A Garda report into how almost a million bogus breath tests were recorded is also due to be finished while Ms O'Sullivan is on leave.

Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry described the timing of Ms O'Sullivan's holiday as "incredible stuff" given what he argued was a "damning indictment" of Garda management in the PAC's Templemore report.

He said everyone was "entitled to a vacation", but asked "would Padraig Pearse have headed off a few days before Easter Week?... I don't think so."

Labour TD Alan Kelly said: "Everyone is absolutely entitled to their leave and holidays. However, it is concerning that the Commissioner will be away when these reports are due to come out and even more worrying that the Department of Justice actually sanctioned this."

Resign

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell - another PAC member - defended Ms O'Sullivan. He said: "I'm sure she works more hours than I do - and I do a 70-hour week most weeks."

He also referred to calls by opposition PAC members for Ms O'Sullivan to resign, saying her tenure has "now become a political football" and he believes committee members should focus on its remit of examining how state agencies spend public money. Sources told the Herald Ms O'Sullivan is not expected to issue a public response to the Templemore report during her holiday, which was flagged with the Department of Justice before she knew when the PAC report would be published.

The source said commissioners traditionally take August off as it's a "quiet time" and noted that Ms O'Sullivan will be in regular contact with Garda headquarters.

The source said the Commissioner's absence won't impact on the publication of the analysis into the breath-tests scandal, as she wouldn't be altering its content.

A Garda spokesman said they do not comment on the Commissioner's annual leave.

Security

He said An Garda Siochana was "currently reviewing" the PAC's report on Templemore.

A Department of Justice spokesman said: "The Commissioner notified the department earlier this year of her intention to take leave in July/August 2017, in the normal course". He said Minister Charlie Flanagan and the Commissioner "maintain regular and ongoing contact on security and policing matters."

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