Some nineteen recommendations have been made concerning the financial irregularities found at the Garda Training College in Templemore, Co. Tipperary.
The governments Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman, Mr Seán Fleming (Fianna Fáil) has requested that the Garda Commissioner, Mrs Nóirín O’Sullivan, should now be called on to further explain what he himself described as “a breakdown of all financial controls” at the Garda College campus.
The Garda Internal Audit Section have forwarded a report to the Minister for Justice, Mrs Frances Fitzgerald and the Garda Commissioner, Mrs Nóirín O’Sullivan. Same focuses on previous and outdated accounting practices; detailing so called financial irregularities at the Tipperary College, over the past 6.5 years approximately.
Same report (Audited between January 2009 and March 2016, when around €112m was spent), based on 50 bank accounts audited, is understood to contain evidence of the complex switching of funds between financial statements, resulted in a non-transparent system of accounting, which indicates that monies were possibly expended on gifts and entertainment.
The audit report is understood to have contained the following information:
(A) The auditors stated that they could give no assurance that the financial controls at the Garda College were compliant with public financial procedures or the Garda Finance Code.
(B) A sum of €124,903 was collected in rent for Dromad Farm, Clonmore, Templemore, Co. Tipperary. [Latter was a 220 acre site, purchased using tax payer funding, for use by the college as a possible Tactical Training Centre, at the Celtic Tiger inflated price of €5.5 million, back about 2006. The property was never used for the intended purpose.]
While the holding company for this land was operated by Garda College management as directors, the Office of Public Works (OPW), it would now appear, was the legal owner of this property. In their right therefore, the report states, the OPW were entitled to receive this financial emolument, some of which may have actually been spent on entertainment, presentations, sponsorship and donations to charity, e.g. Fiacri House & Restaurant, Boulerea, Knock, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary (€740.00), Lions Club (€120.00), Special Olympics (€100.00), St Joseph’s School (€200.00), and four presentations made on the transfer and retirement of senior Garda personnel (€1,588.00).
The report also states that Garda staff, who were Directors of the land company now need to correct the public record and make declarations under the Ethics in Public Office and Standards in Public Office legislation. It also insists that all land and buildings at Templemore should be transferred immediately into the ownership of the OPW, to which the latter should be paid more than €120,000 in back rent.
(C) It found that some 37% of a ‘Laundry and Services’ account, was not being used for the true purpose stated. Indications relating to this account suggest that monies were used for other purposes, e.g. Meals and Entertainment (€7,231.00), Contributions to Charities (€3,030.00), Parish Clergy (€2,150.00) and Golf Society (€1,040.00).
(D) Issues found in relation to the College Bar possibly relate to poor management and inadequate stock control, rather than any suspicion of theft or fraud.
The auditors now recommend
(1) A company based at the college, known as the ‘Garda College Sports Field Company Limited’ be wound up.
(2) Funding applications from College Clubs and Societies be evaluated in a more transparent manner.
(3) The report criticises the fact that Garda staff in administrative roles at the college, remain in ignorance regarding public financial procedures, essential to the correct running of the college.
This report also stresses that its findings are only an interim testimony and that further more in-depth auditing is possibly required.