Corporate enforcer had to wait a year for allocation of detectives

Frustration grows as office seeks resources to police ‘white collar’ crime

Ian Drennan, director of corporate enforcement: internal emails reveal frustration. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ian Drennan, director of corporate enforcement: internal emails reveal frustration. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Ireland’s corporate enforcer had to wait almost a year for a requested allocation of six detectives to strengthen its investigating resources despite repeated requests to An Garda Síochána.

Internal emails detail how Office of the Director Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) director Ian Drennan grew frustrated, at one stage saying the Garda had “clearly no intention” of transferring the officers in the foreseeable future.

Mr Drennan first wrote to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in July last year seeking the six new detectives, copying his letter to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister of State Robert Troy.

“As you are aware,” he wrote, “there has, in recent years, been a considerable focus on strengthening Ireland’s capacity to tackle so-called ‘white collar crime’. In that context, I would hope that you would look favourably upon this request.”

On October 12th, he wrote again, having received only an acknowledgment of the original letter. “A response would be appreciated,” he wrote.

Delays

Two weeks later, Mr Drennan was again in contact with the Garda Commissioner – this time about the likely transfer of one of the watchdog’s existing detective inspectors due to promotion. Mr Drennan noted that “significant delays” had been experienced in these circumstances in the past with a vacancy in the role at one stage lasting for more than a year.

He said he would like to have a successor with no “gap period” and again asked for an update on his other request for six extra detectives.

In early November the Garda formally responded to say they did not have the capacity in the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau to agree to the request. However, they said a decision had been made to recruit six new positions for the bureau and, when appointed, they would be allocated to the ODCE.

They also said the position of the detective inspector could be filled immediately through the temporary transfer of a named officer for three months.

Mr Drennan welcomed the temporary cover by a detective inspector but sought a “greater degree of clarity” about a permanent replacement.

Timelines

He also sought an update on the recruitment of additional staff by the economic crime bureau and their deployment to the ODCE “in order that this office can plan accordingly”.

After he became aware in that the Garda recruitment competition had taken place in December, he was told the detectives would be in place around February.

However, when he wrote on February 4th to say he had heard nothing further on deployment, the Garda responded a week later to say the transfer could not now take place, though the reasons why have been redacted from the records.

A frustrated ODCE director updated colleagues in the Department of Enterprise. In an email to a senior official, Mr Drennan said: “There is clearly no intention for the foreseeable future to deploy the additional members of An Garda Síochána that I was previously advised had been approved.

“This correspondence [from gardaí] further begs the question as to whether, had I not written again on February 4th seeking a deployment date, we would have been advised of this decision.”

In June, the department told him that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had been directly in touch with the Minister for Justice about Garda resourcing for the corporate enforcer. It said the first allocation of two detectives to the ODCE had taken place in April, to be followed by two more in June, with the final two arriving at a later date.

In response, Mr Drennan said the appointments were temporary and did not address the need for permanent additional investigative staff.