Audit finds Garda college has €24,000 worth of Aviva shares

Administrative officer claims organisation is selling holding and returning income to State

An interim audit of the finances of the Garda College at Templemore released in March 2017 outlined the existence of 50 bank accounts. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

An interim audit of the finances of the Garda College at Templemore released in March 2017 outlined the existence of 50 bank accounts. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

An internal Garda audit has identified €24,000 worth of shares in an insurance company in the name of Templemore Garda college.

Chief administrative officer at An Garda Síochána Joseph Nugent has informed the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the existence of shares in Aviva.

Mr Nugent said he learned of the investments when conducting an examination of the existing bank accounts in the Garda college.

The Aviva shares were held in the name of “Garda Mess Committee”, a name now associated with the Templemore College restaurant and had been open for more than 16 years.

Mr Nugent wrote in his correspondence to the committee: “The issue came to light on the recent receipt of a dividend from the shares. The shares were free shares generated from a Hibernian Norwich Union Policy which was commenced on 12/03/’99 and subsequently closed on 17/11/’15.

“Although the policy was encashed, the shares were not sold. The value of the shares is currently in the order of €24,000.”

The value of the shares have fluctuated over time but its current value is €24,000.

It is unknown if there were previous dividends paid out over the past 16 years and if they were it is unclear if the monies were returned to the college or given elsewhere.

The college should have disclosed any investments it held to the Garda and the Department of Justice prior to this.

Returned to State

Mr Nugent said An Garda Síochána is having the shares immediately sold with the income generated returned to the State.

He confirmed an examination of all financial investments associated with the various Templemore entities is now being conducted and is being treated as a priority.

The PAC is to consider a draft of its final report on financial mismanagement at Templemore Garda College this week. However, documentation from the Garda is still emerging.

The documentation released to the committee on Monday night also includes notes of a meeting held on July 29th, 2015 between the Garda head of human resources John Barrett and the head of legal affairs Ken Ruane.

This followed a letter sent from Mr Ruane to the Garda commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan three days previously urging the commissioner to issue a Section 41 to the Minister for Justice making her aware of the financial irregularities. She did not do so for a further 15 months.

Conflicting evidence

The latest notes given to the committee allege deputy commissioner Donal O’Cualain was critical of Mr Ruane’s decision to send the letter.

Mr Barrett claimed Mr O’Cualain believed the head of legal affairs had “pushed the nuclear button” and a Section 41 was not required due to a lack of information.

Mr Ruane told the meeting the Garda should not be examining this malpractice internally and believed it was a matter for the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Public Accounts Committee and the Minister for Justice.

The PAC is due to receive more correspondence this week from the commissioner, Mr Ruane and Mr Barrett.

All three have provided conflicting evidence to the committee and have been asked to clarify their testimony.

An interim audit of the finances of the Garda College at Templemore released in March 2017 outlined the existence of 50 bank accounts, and taxpayers’ money being used to fit privately owned shops.