Minister says Nóirín O’Sullivan ‘may well have to resign’

John Paul Phelan is first FG TD to break ranks on Garda commissioner’s future

Referring to revelations at the Public Accounts Committee  about  financial mismanagement at the Garda College in Templemore, Minister of State  for Local Government and Electoral Reform John Paul Phelan (above) said: “Some of the things that have come out are appalling.”  File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Referring to revelations at the Public Accounts Committee about financial mismanagement at the Garda College in Templemore, Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform John Paul Phelan (above) said: “Some of the things that have come out are appalling.” File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Fine Gael TD and Minister of State John Paul Phelan has said Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan “may well have to resign” over recent controversies.

Mr Phelan, who was appointed as Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform this week by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, made the comments this afternoon during a debate with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1.

“Some of the things that have come out are appalling,” he said, referring to revelations at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week about severe financial mismanagement at the Garda College in Templemore.

The PAC expects to complete an interim report on its findings in about a month.

Mr Phelan said that depending on the outcome of the PAC inquiry, Ms O’Sullivan “may well have to resign”.

Break ranks

He is the first Fine Gael TD to break ranks and suggest the commissioner might have to step down. This week in the Dáil, the Taoiseach said Ms O’Sullivan had his confidence and that of his Government.

Responding to a question from Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, the Taoiseach said problems in the Garda preceded the commissioner taking over.

However, he said he was not happy with the pace of reform, adding this needed to be accelerated to restore trust.

During the PAC hearings this week, Ms O’Sullivan said she was not previously aware of a letter by a senior Garda official who sought charitable status for Templemore Garda College from Revenue in an attempt to “muddy things up”.

She denied her referral of the investigation to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) was an attempt to stymie her being questioned about it at the hearings.

Deeply concerned

The deputy chair of the PAC, Labour TD Alan Kelly, said he was deeply concerned that the commissioner refused to express confidence in her management team when asked.

“Some of them can’t even bear to be in the same room as one another,” Mr Kelly said of senior Garda management.