PAC chairman warns Taoiseach has "got it wrong" on Garda Commissioner

Seán Fleming says the Taoiseach "has not followed the debate in the detail he should have"

PAC chairman warns Taoiseach has "got it wrong" on Garda Commissioner

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin | Image:

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has hit back at the Taoiseach over his criticism of its report on the Garda Commissioner.

Sean Fleming says Leo Varadkar has "got it wrong" by claiming it was up to Nóirín O'Sullivan to decide if outside auditors were to be informed about the financial problems at Templemore.

Divisions between the government and the committee are deepening – after the PAC concluded that the commissioner failed in her duty to promptly inform the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) about the financial irregularities at Templemore.

It found that the delay was "unacceptable."

Leo Varadkar has claimed that the law in fact gives her discretion to decide when the auditor is informed.

This afternoon however, PAC chairman Sean Fleming said that even the commissioner herself knows that's not true.

“Nóirín O’Sullivan agrees with the PAC, the C&AG agrees with the PAC – but Leo Varadkar has not followed the debate in the detail that he should have,” he said.

He said that the delay in informing the C&AG denied the auditor the right to determine what investigation was needed.

He was backed by fellow PAC member and Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy - who also took a swipe at the Taoiseach’s standpoint.

“The Comptroller and Auditor General said he would have expected her to more or less tell him what she knew about Templemore in a timely way,” she said. “More or less immediately.”

The government is holding firm in its support for the Commissioner however, with the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty insisting Commissioner O'Sullivan is the right person to rectify the problems facing the force.

“There are real difficulties in the garda force at the moment and I think Nóirín O’Sullivan – not only has she highlighted them but she recognises them and she is doing as much as she can to change the force,” she said.

Those problems won't be addressed for a few weeks though – it is believed the commissioner is beginning her controversial five-week holiday today.