Damning report finds Garda admin staff in Templemore not trained

Auditors identified and examined 48 bank accounts linked to the Garda college

Damning report finds Garda admin staff in Templemore not trained

The outside of the Garda Training College in Templemore in County Tipperary. Photo: RollingNews.ie

Garda auditors say they can provide 'no assurances' that adequate controls are in place to manage finances at the Garda Training College in Templemore.

A damning Garda Internal Audit Section interim report examines financial procedures at the Templemore college.

Auditors looked at the accounts between January 2009 and March 2016, when around €112 million was spent.

While the college can accommodate 520 students, it 'effectively closed down' between 2010 and 2013 due to the hiring freeze during the financial crisis.

48 separate bank accounts relating to the college were identified during the audit.

The report found that no financial controls existed on a number of bank accounts linked to the college.

"Garda staff assigned to administrative roles in the College had no training in or experience of administration and had no knowledge of Public Financial Procedures [...] and associated governance codes," the report notes.

Auditors spoke to the accountant responsible for the college bar accounts, he said he "could not verify the cash records for certain days / functions held in the bar".

The report also states that around 37% of the expenditure from a laundry and services account "had nothing to do with laundry or services". Unrelated expenditure included meals / entertainment, jewellery & gifts, and contributions to charity.

'Immediate recommendations'

The report makes a number of recommendations to be implemented 'immediately', including that all but one bank account in control of college management should be closed.

It wants a company based at the college - known as the Garda College Sports Field Company Limited - to be wound up.

"All land and buildings should be transferred to the control of the Office of Public Works," it adds.

The auditors also say that the administrator of the college should have a specialist accountant and facilities manager reporting to them, as well as a HR worker to resolve issues flagged in the report.

They note that it is an interim report and more audit work may be required.

David Cullinane, the Sinn Féin member of the Public Accounts Committee, expressed 'shock' at the report's findings.

He argued: “It is incredible that staff with no training or experience were given control of public monies at Templemore.

“The finding by the audit team that the training centre operated a complex web of accounts and investments cannot be allowed to be passed off as a ‘legacy issue'."

He reiterated the party's call for Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan to step aside, claiming: "There is simply no way the public would have trust in reforms while the present Commissioner remains at the helm."