Gardaí warned on Templemore eight years before audit unit told

Senior administrator warned then Garda commissioner about training college in 2008

Former Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Former Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Senior Garda management was instructed to inform the internal audit unit of financial irregularities at Templemore Garda college in 2008 but did not do so for a further eight years.

Chief administrative officer John Leamy wrote to then Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy outlining his concerns about the scale of the difficulties at the training college.

In the letter, dated April 25th, 2008, he identified a variety of concerns including poor record-keeping and a significant number of bank, credit union and loan accounts.

He describes the college as a complex financial structure that involves the college, a limited company, clubs and committees, a retail outlet and the college restaurant.

Responding to a report carried out by the director of finance into the complex financial difficulties in Templemore, Mr Leamy said some transactions were being carried out in a non-transparent and non-accountable manner.

‘Breach of trust’

Urging commissioner Murphy and two other senior gardaí to inform the internal audit committee of the discoveries, he said that not briefing them would be regarded as a “significant breach of trust”.

However, the internal audit committee was not informed until March 2016 of the difficulties and asked to carry out an inquiry into the college.

The Leamy letter is part of a 400-page dossier sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by An Garda Síochána.

The documents also show that a meeting was held in September 2015 where it was agreed not to inform the internal audit team until 2016.

The correspondence includes a letter sent from Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s office explaining why she did not inform the Minister for Justice of the problems.

It had emerged that the head of legal affairs within An Garda Síochána, Ken Ruane, had informed Ms O’Sullivan of her legal obligation to speak to the Minister about the Templemore issue on July 24th, 2015.

However, the commissioner did not inform Frances Fitzgerald until March 2016.

The correspondence sent to the committee includes a letter on July 30th, 2015 from the commissioner’s office outlining why she has not done so.

Supt Frank Walsh said the commissioner believed the reports required more detail and corroboration.

Mr Walsh insisted this was necessary before the Minister was contacted and before a Section 41 notification was issued.

This is a source of political concern as Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin believe Ms O’Sullivan failed in her legal obligations by not informing Ms Fitzgerald.

The PAC will consider the documentation at a meeting on Thursday before deciding the shape of its inquiry.

It is expected to agree to invite four senior civilians in the force to give evidence before the committee next week.

Niall Kelly, head of internal audit; Garda’s head of human resources John Barrett; Gurchand Singh, head of the Garda analysis service; and Mr Ruane will be invited to appear without the presence of Ms O’Sullivan.

Each of the individuals has individually raised concerns about the Garda’s operations. Ms O’Sullivan will also be invited to give evidence soon before the committee.

Internal investigations

Three internal investigations were carried out into irregularities at Templemore college.

As far back as 2006, senior gardaí were informed of the existence of a number of bank accounts.

Management was told money from the Garda restaurant fund was being used for annual gifts to the clergy, payments were made to the Garda GAA club and money was issued to a number of insurance companies.

Four years later, in 2010, a review was carried out of the Garda restaurant and found it was to make an operating loss.

It discovered the manager at the restaurant was being paid €25,000 more than the industry average.

It proposed a number of redundancies , reducing the service to the students attending the college and introducing self-service.