Taoiseach defends Garda Commissioner following PAC report

The Taoiseach says Noirín O'Sullivan has his full confidence

Taoiseach defends Garda Commissioner following PAC report

Leo Varadkar. Image: RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach has given his backing to the Garda Commissioner - and dismissed some of the criticism made against her by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Leo Varadkar says Noirin O'Sullivan has total discretion about when serious issues should be informed to the Government or the State auditor.

His remarks today come despite the PAC report claiming it was "unacceptable" for her to delay informing both bodies about financial irregularities at the Garda training college.

The report led to members of Labour and Sinn Féin calling for Commissioner O'Sullivan's resignation.

The Taoiseach says the Garda chief has his full confidence - and defended her plans to go on five weeks' leave.

Mr Varadkar said: "I don't approve annual leave for the gardaí or any member of a Government agency.

"I think anyone is entitled to take their annual leave, provided they're entitled to take it."

On the subject of the delay in informing officials about the Templemore irregularities, Mr Varadkar observed: "The explanation she's given and holds to to date is that she wanted to get all the facts.

"Under law, it's her judgement - not somebody else's."

The Taoiseach's comments were criticised as "extraordinary and unprecedented" by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.

She argued: “This is an unprecedented statement by the head of government and a direct challenge to the authority of the office of the [Comptroller & Auditor General].

“In taking this position, Leo Varadkar has failed in his duties as Taoiseach.”