Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach reaffirms support for Garda chief in financial irregularities dispute

Enda Kenny has restated his backing for the Garda Commissioner in a row over financial irregularities at the force's training college.

A parliamentary committee investigating the use and transfer of public money at the Garda College has been handed evidence by the force's human resources boss John Barrett.

The record of a disputed meeting between Mr Barrett and Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan about the affair "completely contradicts" her version of events, Gerry Adams told the Dail.

Again urging the Taoiseach to "relieve Noirin O'Sullivan of her duties", the Sinn Fein leader said her position was untenable.

"The majority of parties here in Leinster House now want her to go and you need to act in best interests of An Garda Siochana, for the sake of the people of the State, the Commissioner needs to go," he said.

"Will you finally accept this reality and relieve Noirin O'Sullivan of her duties as Commissioner if she refuses to resign?"

But Mr Kenny said: "I have confidence in the Garda Commissioner to do her job."

The Taoiseach also said the Cabinet has approved Kathleen O'Toole as head of a new Patten-style commission to overhaul the scandal-ridden police force.

Former Boston police chief Ms O'Toole sat on the Patten Commission, which heralded the end of the RUC in Northern Ireland.

She was also the first head of the Garda Inspectorate when it was set up after the Morris Tribunal into force corruption more than a decade ago.

In the meantime, Mr Kenny said he expects Ms O'Sullivan to do her job as Garda Commissioner and added that she would appear again before the Public Accounts Committee to answer questions about the disputed meeting.

It is investigating revelations of a five million euro surplus in bank accounts and investment policies related to the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.

Concerns were flagged over the leasing out of land and some of the money being spent on entertaining and retirement gifts.

An internal investigation by an assistant commissioner as well as an audit by in-house officials into the findings is ongoing.

Mr Barrett has told the parliamentary committee it is "too early to say" if crimes were committed amid financial irregularities.

Both he and Ms O'Sullivan have disagreed over the extent to which they discussed the issues during a meeting at the college in July 2015.

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