Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Public Accounts Committee

2015 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 20 - Garda Síochána - Internal Audit Report on Garda College, Templemore (Resumed)

9:00 am

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois, Fianna Fail)
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We are joined by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Séamus McCarthy, who is a permanent witness at the committee.

Because of the votes in the Dáil today, the meeting will run as follows. The Dáil is meeting at noon and we will suspend the sitting at approximately 11.50 a.m. to enable members to attend the chamber for the nomination of the Taoiseach. Following the voting, the sitting of the Dáil will be suspended for the afternoon and the committee meeting will resume as close to 3 p.m. as possible. If the voting is completed in the Dáil much earlier than expected, the meeting will resume half an hour afterwards, but we expect it to be completed by 2.30 p.m. or 3 p.m.I understand there will be a suspension of the Dáil sitting of at least three hours in the afternoon. That is the approximate timescale. The Dáil will reassemble to discuss the election of a Government by which time we will have concluded. The committee meeting will certainly not resume after that because that debate will take a few hours to complete. In other words, we will have a morning session until about 11.50 a.m. and an afternoon session, depending on the number of questions to be asked. Speakers have indicated in the following sequence: Deputies David Cullinane, Catherine Murphy, Alan Kelly and Catherine Connolly.

We are continuing to look at the 2015 appropriation accounts, Vote 20 - An Garda Síochána, specifically the interim internal audit report on financial procedures at the Garda College. We discussed the matter on 4 and 31 May and will today engage with Garda senior management and the former chief administrative officer. The Commissioner will appear before the committee next Tuesday, 20 June, to answer further questions. Next Tuesday evening in a separate meeting the committee will meet representatives of the Policing Authority and the Department of Justice and Equality. The focus today is on what has happened since 2015, the interim internal audit report and its implementation. As at our last meeting, I again ask members co-operate fully. We are joined from An Garda Síochána by the deputy commissioner, Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin; the assistant commissioner, Ms Anne Marie McMahon; chief superintendent Margaret Nugent; superintendent Pat McCabe; Mr. Barry McGee, author of the 2008 report; Mr. Joe Nugent, chief administrative officer; and Mr. Cyril Dunne, the former chief administrative officer who left the position in October 2015 and who has indicated his availability until lunchtime.

I remind members, witnesses and those in the Visitors Gallery that all mobile phones must be switched off fully or left in airplane mode. It is not adequate to leave them in silent mode because they will still interfere with the recording system.

By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person or an entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

Members of the committee are reminded of the provisions of Standing Order 186 that the committee shall refrain from inquiring into the merits of a policy or policies of the Government or a Minister of the Government or the objectives of such policies. They are also reminded of the long-standing ruling of the Chair to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

As we did not ask for a formal opening statement, we will commence with the first speaker, Deputy David Cullinane, who will have 20 minutes. The second will have 15 minutes, while everyone else will have ten. We need to keep to the timetable because of the tightness of time. Members will have an opportunity to come back in a second time, but we are keeping to the timescale outlined.