Vote 20 - An Garda Síochána

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan (Commissioner, An Garda Síochána) called and examined.

We are now back in public session. This morning we will examine the 2015 appropriation accounts of An Garda Síochána. I welcome back the Garda Commissioner, Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan, who is accompanied today by some familiar faces, Mr. Joseph Nugent, chief administrative officer, Mr. Michael Culhane, executive director of finance and services, Deputy Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, governance and strategy, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, roads policy and major events-emergency management. We are also joined by Ken Ruane, Inspector Netta Browne and Superintendent Marie Broderick, and by John Burke from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

I remind members, witnesses and those in the Gallery to switch off their mobile phones completely. Putting them on silent is not adequate. They have to be on airplane mode as otherwise it will interfere with the recording system.

I advise witnesses that 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. If they are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a 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 they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or 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 merits of the objectives of such policies. Members are 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 House or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

Before I call on the Comptroller and Auditor General, I will refer briefly to something. This morning, we received a letter from Mr. Joseph Nugent to the committee dated 13 July inquiring about the publication of the report. The arrangements are that we will finish our discussion here with the Garda Síochána and the Courts Service before the voting block in the afternoon. For the rest of the evening, the committee, in private session, will finalise our report on Templemore training college with a view to the report being launched next Tuesday at 2 o'clock. As is normal in the Oireachtas, draft reports are not circulated. It will go through the normal Oireachtas procedure. That procedure does not involve issuing a draft report for comment. The report will be issued in the same way as the education report two days ago. We did not send a copy to the Higher Education Authority or the colleges concerned. We issued the report on the day. That is the normal procedure.

There is a reference in the letter this morning which states: "The recent media coverage also refers to additional material received by the Committee, extracts of which appear to have been published." It may not have been by us. We do not know the source of the publication. It continues: "The Commissioner would be grateful if the Committee would provide a copy of all such material received by it in order that it may be appropriately considered by the Commissioner and any other Garda colleagues in conjunction with the Committee's [draft] report." If there is something we have received that has not come directly through Joseph Nugent or the Commissioner's office, we will of course arrange to send a copy of it in the event she does not have it already. We will do that straight away. I am just putting that on the record. The report is expected to be launched next Tuesday at 2 o'clock.

I call on the Comptroller and Auditor General to make an opening statement.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

The 2015 appropriation account for the Vote for An Garda Síochána recorded gross expenditure of €1.5 billion. As indicated in the diagram on screen, almost two thirds of the expenditure was related to payment of salaries, wages and allowances, which totalled €963 million. At the end of the year, just over 15,000 whole-time equivalent staff were employed, of which just under 13,000 were gardaí or trainees, with the remainder being civilian employees. An Garda Síochána spent €312 million from the Vote on pension and gratuity payments to retired members of An Garda Síochána in 2015. Pension costs of retired civilian staff are incurred on Vote 12 - Superannuation. As well as standard administration costs, expenditure was incurred on a wide range of other areas including transport, communications and other equipment, and the capital building programme.

As well as standard administration costs, expenditure was incurred on a wide range of other areas, including transport, communications and other equipment as well as the capital building programme.

The Vote for An Garda Síochána routinely receives a Supplementary Estimate towards the end of the year. A Supplementary Estimate of a little over €35 million was voted for An Garda Síochána in 2015. At the end of the year, the surplus remaining unspent was €8.5 million. Of this, some €6.6 million in unspent capital funding was carried over to 2016 with the remaining €1.8 million liable for surrender.

Apart from disclosure of the concerns around financial management at the Garda College in Templemore, the Accounting Officer statement on internal financial control discloses non-competitive procurement by An Garda Síochána of €11.5 million worth of goods and services in 2015, steps being taken to improve risk management in An Garda Síochána and concerns around the management and control of evidential and non-evidential property taken into possession by An Garda Síochána.

Thank you, Mr. McCarthy. I now call on the Garda Commissioner, Ms O'Sullivan, to make her opening statement.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Thank you for the invitation to appear before the committee in my capacity as Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote. The team and I look forward to discussing the Vote with you, Chairman, and members of the committee.

The current strength of the Garda service is approximately 13,300 sworn members, inclusive of all ranks, including 198 who were attested last week and assigned to stations throughout the country. Approximately 300 members retire from the organisation each year. An Garda Síochána has received Government approval to increase the overall strength to 21,000 personnel by 2021. This will include 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserve members and 4,000 civilian members. At present, approximately 2,000 civilians in the organisation carry out senior management, administrative and technical roles. The figure of 4,000 civilian members represents a target of 20% civilians over the next five years. An Garda Síochána currently has approximately 14% civilian staff members. The increase will bring us into line with international norms and ensure that sworn policemen and women are available for and utilised in all operational areas, a commitment we are determined to achieve. The Government approved an increase in civilian numbers by 500 in 2017 and recruitment for the first batch of this number has commenced. We are determined to ensure that happens by the end of this year.

A new Garda recruitment competition was announced on 11 May 2017 with a closing date of 1 June 2017. The competition had three streams: a main stream; a fluency-in-Irish stream; and a Garda Reserve stream. The total of 5,300 applicants compares to 5,600 for the previous competition. A new Garda Reserve recruitment competition was also announced on 23 March 2017. A total of 2,394 applications were received with 1,593 applicants successfully passing the initial stage. Interviews for this competition are ongoing and 600 have been held to date.

Pursuant to section 19(4) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 in October 2006 the Garda Commissioner became the appropriate authority for civilian staff of An Garda Síochána. Simultaneously, a dedicated civilian human resources directorate was established to support the office of the Commissioner in discharging this new statutory responsibility and to drive forward the implementation of the civilianisation programme. Civilian members are employed in a wide range of management, administrative and technical duties. Administrative support duties in Garda stations and offices has enabled the establishment of the expansion of some vital services that are wholly or largely provided by civilian members, including the Garda National Immigration Bureau, the Garda information service centre in Castlebar, the Garda central vetting unit in Thurles, the fixed charge processing office and the call-taking function in the command and control centre along with immigration control officers in Dublin Airport. As part of the engagement of additional civilian members it is proposed that a considerable number will be deployed to release Garda members to operational policing roles. In 2017, it is expected that more than 100 Garda members will return to operational roles through this process.

The 2015 budget for the Garda Vote amounts to €1.35 billion. The original budget was increased by €35.2 million and a surplus of €1.85 million is liable for surrender to the Exchequer. The original budget was increased in the Supplementary Estimate due to the payment of allowances and overtime for an extra roster period that fell due in 2015, in addition to the policing of the visit of the Prince of Wales and the implementation of Operation Thor that commenced on 2 November 2015.

In addition, funding requirements in a number of subheads increased. The information and communications technology subhead increased for the maintenance and implementation of critical IT systems and for capital funding for the major investigations management system, known as MIMS.

The modernisation and renewal programme was launched on 9 June 2016, incorporating a range of initiatives to enable An Garda Síochána to meet present and future challenges. The programme has been formed based on recommendations made in 44 reports into An Garda Síochána, including all 11 reports of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate.

Internal and external reports developed over the preceding ten years were taken into consideration as well as extended periods of consultation, workshops and focus groups with senior management within the organisation and with communities throughout the country. To deliver on this programme I have established a strategic transformation office that is responsible for implementing these recommendations and working closely with the Policing Authority and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to ensure key recommendations are addressed. The new commission on policing will play a role in this as well. We have recently recruited a civilian executive director for strategic transformation with the assistance of the Policing Authority.

An under-spend of €32.2 million in 2015 arose in the capital building programme for three new divisional headquarters due to the timing of contracts and payments. The under-spend resulted in a decrease in the original budget by €25.4 million in the Supplementary Estimate. This was utilised to fund additional capital requirements for ICT, Garda vehicles and aircraft. The remaining €6.644 million was carried forward to 2016 under the capital carry-forward provisions.

The issue of accommodation presents a risk to the organisation's ability to effectively assimilate the increased Garda and civilian resources approved by Government. We are working closely with colleagues in the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Office of Public Works to address these matters.

The programme for a partnership Government recognises that gardaí must have the modern technology and resources necessary: to prevent, detect and investigate crimes; to provide a security service to the State; and to prevent loss and harm to citizens and their property on a 24-7 basis. Some €330 million, including €205 million under the capital plan, is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 to enable An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies in the fight against crime. My team and I are available to take whatever questions committee members might wish to raise.

Thank you very much, Ms O'Sullivan. Members have indicated and we will proceed in the following sequence: the first speaker will have 20 minutes; the second speaker will have 15 minutes; and other speakers will have ten minutes. That includes the question-and-answer period. I have to be strict on time because we have a busy schedule today. The sequence is: Deputy Connolly, Deputy MacSharry, Deputy Cullinane, Deputy Kelly, Deputy Murphy and Deputy McDonald. I will let you know from a couple of minutes out when you are due to finish.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Coimisinéir. We will soon be on holidays – all of us in this committee at any rate. We are looking at the accounts for 2015. I am going to direct my question to those accounts.

What was the response to the recruitment competition? How many applicants applied by the closing date on 1 June?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

There were 5,300 applicants for the full-time competition and for the Reserve competition there were 2,394 applicants.

Ce mhéad de na hiarrathóirí sin a bhfuil Gaeilge acu?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Níl sé sin soiléir go fóill. Nuair a bhí an chéad chomórtas againn sa bhliain 2014, bhí sé mar aidhm againn go mbeadh an Ghaeilge ar a dtoil acu ag 10% de na hiarrathóirí ionas go bhféadfaí iad a chur go dtí na Gaeltachtaí. D'éirigh linn an aidhm sin a bhaint amach sa chéad chúpla grúpa, ach níor chuir dóthain daoine isteach ionas go rabhamar in ann 10% den ghrúpa uile a fháil. Tá an figiúr sin tite beagán ó shin. Tá an stream sin fós mar chuid den chómortas. Tá sé mar aidhm againn é sin a choinneáil ós rud é go bhfuil sé fíorthábhachtach dúinn go mbeadh tobar daoine againn a bheadh ar fáil le haghaidh na freagrachtaí atá orainn faoin Acht - seirbhísí den scoth a thabhairt do mhuintir na Gaeltachta agus, go deimhin, pobal na Gaeilge ar fud na tíre - a chomhlíonadh. Ba cheart go mbeadh na daoine sin ar fáil againn tar éis dóibh a gcuid oiliúna a fháil. Tá sé tábhachtach go mbeadh an oiliúnt sin faighte acu thar thréimhse de trí bliana ar dtús, b'fhéidir, agus ansin go mbeidís ag dul isteach go dtí an rannóg i mBaile Átha Cliath ar liosta de dhaoine atá ar fáil le cur go dtí na Gaeltachtaí, sa chéad dul síos, agus mórthimpeall na tíre ina dhiaidh sin.

Tá pobal mór Gaeilge anseo san ardchathair freisin.

Go raibh maith agat as ucht an soiléiriú sin. B'fhéidir go dtiocfaidh mé ar ais go dtí an ceist seo.

In regard to the Garda Síochána report for 2015, a number of matters were identified. One matter related to procurement, to which I will return later, and two significant financial risks were identified. The audit of the Garda College is a matter for another day and I will leave it; all I will say on it is that a caution was put in and we have dealt with it. It is stated that there were a number of issues associated as set out. The Commissioner said they were not in compliance with current public standard corporate governance procedures. I have asked her previously and I ask her again if she would accept, on reflection, that they were not in compliance with the standards at the time with all of the information that we have now?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I have answered that question before, as the Deputy said. Obviously, what we have said is that they are not in compliance with standards. There is no issue that we accept that they were not in compliance with standards back then, but we have dealt with that in detail at previous committee meetings.

These are the official accounts and this is the caveat that was put in. It was put in with respect to the current financial matters, which always concerned me. If the Commissioner is accepting that they are certainly not in compliance with current standards, then they also were not in compliance with the standards that were there previously.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The amendment to the statement of financial controls for 2015 was made in relation to 2015. Since that we have dealt with the broader issues and the historic issues in regard to the Garda College.

The second issue relates to the storage and management of property, which is a serious matter. The Commissioner has identified that as a significant financial risk. I read the O'Higgins report of last year in detail. One of the items that jumped out of it, to cite one example, was the computer that went missing in the Fr. Molloy case. There are serious issues involved. That is one example that sticks in my mind. Can the Commissioner take me through this? Was there an audit in regard to these matters?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes. There have been several audits and part of the internal audit process conducted by Mr. Kelly identified - on a recurring basis, and that is why we identified it as a key risk - ongoing and continued weaknesses with property and exhibit management storage. However, we have implemented a number of measures to address those issues, particularly around the property and exhibit management stores. From an accommodation point of view, we have a programme of work to make sure that there are stores in every Garda division. They are being implemented and rolled out across-----

Does the Commissioner mean a storage area?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes. One of the deficits identified was the issue of adequate storage facilities. As we said previously, the estate for An Garda Síochána is old. It certainly was not suitable and is not suitable for current-----

Will the Commissioner clarify what property we are talking about? There is property that is essential in terms of evidence in court cases and there is other property. Can the Commissioner give us the details?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It is property coming into the possession of An Garda Síochána. That can come from a number of different categories. We would have property, for example, that is found or retrieved during searches. We would also have property which becomes evidence in prosecutions and property that has been found and handed in by a passer-by.

Sticking with the property that is essential for evidence, how could the storage of that be a significant risk in 2017? What has happened? The Commissioner has said there were inadequate premises and inadequate storage facilities. Are there other problems?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes. There are two aspects that we are addressing. Again, historically, what has happened is that the activities of An Garda Síochána have increased significantly over the years. Our successes speak for themselves in terms of seizure of property during searches and during specific policing and security operations. That property comes into the possession of An Garda Síochána. Likewise, much more property is being retrieved. For example, the Deputy will have seen over the years that we have conducted a number of events where a good deal of effort has been put into trying to reunite property that has come into our possession, whether by searches or otherwise, with its owners.. For example, around the country particularly-----

That is okay. What I am more interested in, and the more serious issue, is evidence that is taken and held in regard to court cases. I notice that this has been prioritised in the strategic transformation programme.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

What priority has it? What steps have been taken? What review is ongoing?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

It is a number one priority and a good deal of work has happened in this space. We now have in almost every division in the country a dedicated property and exhibit management PEM, store. Because they were built in recent years we have been able to build them to a much higher specification, for example, in regard to the storage temperature and all of that. This is available in all but three divisions but all divisions have dedicated storage facilities. A dedicated store manager is assigned to them, which means there is one way in and one way out for property. A dedicated IT solution has been put in place to support the tracking of that property once it comes into the possession of An Garda Síochána. The next phase of the development will mean that at the end of next month a state-of-the-art custom built IT solution will be put in around that for all divisions. A few parallel developments are happening. There is ICT, the physical infrastructure and the policy around that, and the resourcing from the point of view of having dedicated staff dealing with property coming in and out.

Is there a built-in review every six or 12 months given the seriousness of------

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

There is.

When is the next review?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

This is part of our corporate risk register. It is in our risk register. It has been seen as high risk but it is a reducing risk.

It was a high risk and it is now a reducing risk. When is the next review due?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

It is ongoing. It is part of the STO, therefore, the review is happening on a weekly and monthly basis. I give updates to the internal audit committee on this matter at all of our meetings in regard to property and exhibit management, PEM, because that was on-----

When Mr. Ó Cualáin is back next year with the accounts, would he expect to see this gone as a significant risk?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

I would.

If it was not-----

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

A good deal of investment has be made in our physical infrastructure. A few large-scale developments are coming onstream in the next few months and they will all have this as part of that infrastructure, which will bring it up to a very high level. To have it all at that very high level may take a little longer but it definitely will mean that all property is being managed in an organised way.

If Mr. Ó Cualáin is back here next year and it is still a signficant risk, there will be something seriously wrong in this regard.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

I expect it would no longer be a significant risk.

In regard to procurement, I refer to the number of contracts, and that issue is raised regularly with all the bodies that come before us. There were 73 contracts. In terms of the high level of non-compliance with procurement regulations, which the witnesses have noted, An Garda Síochána complied with the guidelines with the exception of 73 contracts to the value of over €11 million. We ask every single organisation that comes before us about this, and I have no idea why procurement regulations are not being complied with by every organisation but particularly by the Garda.

Mr. Michael Culhane

In regard to procurement, there is an ongoing issue in terms of having the resources to ensure that everything is procured in compliance with public procurement procedures. The service we provide is sometimes emergency in nature, so sometimes it is not possible in terms of responding to certain incidents to comply fully with procurement procedures.

These were 73 contracts to the value of over €11 million.

Mr. Michael Culhane

They were 73 purchases, were they?

This document states that An Garda Síochána complied with the guidelines with the exception of 73 contracts to the value of €11 million plus.

Mr. Michael Culhane

I suppose there were 73 categories of purchases rather than necessarily contracts. I note the word used is "contract" but the word used there is "contracts". If we had contracts in place, obviously we would be in compliance. For example, in terms of medical services provided to persons who are detained-----

I did not use the word "contract", the witnesses used the word "contract". I am only quoting from their document. I know there are exceptions because we know from different organisations that there are exceptions but to have that level of non-compliance - I have been told it is about 10% of the overall non-pay - is extremely high in terms of value and in terms of giving an example to other organisations bearing in mind that this is the Garda.

Mr. Culhane has given me one example.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

Would he accept that is huge non-compliance?

Mr. Michael Culhane

We have a very active programme to address the non-compliance. It is not a static item. Certain items recur and new items come on the agenda. There is a procurement section within An Garda Síochána and we are addressing those as quickly as possible. I accept that the 73 number is high, but we are actively addressing all of those issues.

If Mr. Culhane is familiar with them, could he tell me the nature of those contracts? I believe some of them are security firms.

Mr. Michael Culhane

There are proprietary items, for example, technology, where we purchase certain types of technology. For the maintenance of those systems, obviously we have to use those companies to maintain those systems. In that case, we would not necessarily undertake a procurement procedure because there is only one supplier for the system. There is a large range of other services, for example, the towing of cars involved in road traffic accidents. I mentioned medical services, which is an expenditure of over €2 million. That is now in place. We have worked with the Office of Government Procurement, OGP, and the Health Services Executive. It has put a contract in place, so that will address that in its entirety. There is an active programme to address these issues. It is in terms of resources, but also it is the nature of the items included. Some are proprietary, and they will continue to be priority. While we will address as many of the gaps as possible, there will continue to be proprietary items which will continue to feature in 40/02.

It is not just Mr. Culhane, but when different witnesses come before us we get that general information. We get information from the witnesses and from the Comptroller and Auditor General telling us about non-procurement. It is a duty, an obligation and a regulation, and then I get a general answer. I would like to know the steps involved. Has it been reduced? What is the target for next year? That is all the members of this committee want to know because there are huge implications for non-compliance. It does not instill confidence in local businesses that the procurement rules can be relied on. There are huge implications in terms of trust, particularly from the Garda again, but it is not just the Garda; it is every organisation. I would expect that if we are all here next year, or whoever is here, this would have reduced significantly and that Mr. Culhane would be saying: "This is totally unacceptable. We cannot have this level of non-compliance and we will reduce it to the bare necessities in an emergency". That is the answer I would expect.

Mr. Michael Culhane

That is our objective. I mentioned the medical services contract, for example. That is €2 million. That will disappear from the 40/02 list. The Deputy can see that there is an active programme. In terms of the towing contracts, we have contracts in most divisions and we expect that we will have that completed this year. We will remove substantial items from that list. There is an active programme in place and there is a dedicated procurement section in Garda headquarters which is addressing this matter.

Has it worked to date if 10% of non-pay does not come under the procurement process?

Mr. Michael Culhane

As I mentioned, some of the items are proprietary. We will continue to have that. I am trying to help the Deputy. We are working to ensure as much compliance with public procurement procedures as possible.

Mr. Michael Culhane

We are working with our colleagues in the Office of Government Procurement as well to address it.

Would somebody clarify the Schengen information system for me and the amount of money that is being spent on that? I understand we are not part of the Schengen Convention. Ireland and England opted out.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

Can the Deputy clarify her question? Does she want a description of the system?

Mr. Nugent, I will address the Commissioner regarding the Schengen information system. I understand there is no contract in place. It is a contract it is looking at in terms of sharing information under this Schengen information system. I ask the Commissioner about that. What is the position on that? Ireland is not in the convention, but we are sharing the information? Where are we at in that regard? What is it costing us, and what is its status? It is on page 12 of the accounts, it states:

The Schengen Information System was developed as part of the Schengen Convention... The project has an estimated [value] of €23.9 million...".

Where are we with that? What money has the Garda paid out for that?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

To clarify, we are part of the Schengen information system and obviously-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes, we are.

That is what I said, but we are not part of the Schengen Convention area. We opted out of that. I wanted that clarified.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Okay, but we are part of the Schengen information system-----

Absolutely, yes.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----and it is a very important platform. I might explain the background to it. It is a very important part of the interoperability platform for working with law enforcement agencies across Europe, particularly in protecting borders. It is a particularly important tool.

How much money has been spent on it? Is there a contract in place? That is what I want to know.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes. There is a contract in place.

Who is the contract with? Is there a signed contract?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It is with Accenture.

When was the contract signed?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

In late 2016.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Twenty million euro.

A contract has been signed. When was that signed?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

In December 2016.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The figure is €21.7 million.

What is the period of the contract?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It is a minimum of two years.

Was that put out to tender?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

How long did it take to negotiate that contract?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The problem was that there was no funding for the contract so while the contract was tendered, the tendering competition was completed some time ago.

Mr. Michael Culhane

I have not got an exact date in terms of when the tender was completed, but the issue was in regard to funding. At the end of 2016, we got a Supplementary Estimate which included €4 million for the Schengen system. That allowed us to sign the contract and then make an additional payment of €4 million. As part of the funding for the Schengen system, that is included in the mid-term capital review. We are seeking the balance in terms of the funding required to complete the system.

I understand over €2.5 million was brought forward on 1 January that was not used? Did Mr. Culhane assign money for that?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Could I make a point about the note?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

The amount of €2.7 million is money that was already spent, but my understanding is that it was spent prior to 2007. Effectively, the project has been in cold storage for a number of years.

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

Yes.

I will finish on this point. On what was that €2.7 million spent?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The €2.7 million was spent on the Schengen system.

I will have to come back to that.

The next speaker is Deputy MacSharry, who has 15 minutes.

I welcome the witnesses once again. On that Accenture contract, was everything associated with it tendered in terms of the work Accenture is doing for the Garda?

Mr. Michael Culhane

I am sorry. I did not hear the question.

In terms of the non-procurement, Mr. Culhane said the SIS system was the subject of a tender.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

Is Accenture doing any other work for the Garda that was not the subject of a tender? Was it a beneficiary of the 73 breaches in procurement?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No. The existing work being done is on the basis of contracts which were tendered and rolled over with sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Is Mr. Culhane talking about the SIS issue?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No. It was a general question.

The general question, yes.

Mr. Michael Culhane

I am saying there was nothing included in, say, the €11 million.

Does Accenture do any other work for the Garda?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes. It does extensive work. Under a contract it provides skilled resources for the maintenance of the ICT systems in general. It is working on a number of other projects as well. I just do not have the consultant files-----

Anything else?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is also working in the strategic information office providing skilled resources.

Were those competitive tenders that were won?

Mr. Michael Culhane

In terms of the strategic transformation office, for the establishment of that, there was a drawdown on an existing contract under the skill resources. We have sanction-----

Would all of the existing contracts have been the subject of competitive tenders?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Unless there was anything subject to a security derogation.

What kind of work would Accenture be doing that would be subject to a security derogation?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Sorry-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

They would be some of our security systems, Deputy.

Is it computer stuff?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

Was there any other work? Was there communications work with the press office?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

The company does communications work within the context of the modernisation and renewal programme. There is a communications component to that programme.

For absolute clarity, there is no work that Accenture is doing that is not the subject of a tendered contract, albeit one that was rolled over with permission.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes. That is my understanding.

The accounts show that €231,000 was spent on consultancy services. Can I have a breakdown of what the money was spent on?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Some of the €231,000 was to do with the retention of the AA's services to advise us on the management of the fleet. I think that was approximately just over €100,000. I have not got it off the top of my head in terms of what the balance was but I am happy to provide the Deputy with the figure.

Were PR services included?

Mr. Michael Culhane

I do not believe so. Consultancy has a very specific definition. PR would not fall into that, as far as I am aware. I would have to check the actual-----

I would say it possibly could.

Mr. Michael Culhane

It may but I have not got a breakdown of that figure. I am sorry.

In terms of Mr. Culhane's definition of consultation service, it would not. Is that what he is saying?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No.

When someone says to me that he or she has availed of consultancy services, I would presume that included PR services.

Mr. Michael Culhane

No. The definition provided by the Department of Finance sets out skills. In terms of where there are no skills available within An Garda Síochána, that it falls within the definition of a consultancy, I think.

All right. There is no PR firm. Can Mr. Culhane give us a breakdown of where €231,000 went after the fact?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

Can Mr. Culhane confirm whether the contracts were tendered for?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

All of them?

Mr. Michael Culhane

I have to check that, Deputy. I just have not got the breakdown for this.

I wonder about the 73 contracts that were non-compliant. To what did those contracts relate?

Mr. Michael Culhane

I have explained. In terms of say the medical services, it was over €2 million.

Yes. We are down to €9.5 million.

Mr. Michael Culhane

That would be accounted. Then there are towing contracts, which may be over €1 million. There are many other services, which I am just trying to think of at the moment.

What are the procurement guidelines for the Garda Síochána? I am from Sligo. Let us say towing services are required in Sligo. Is a conscious decision made to support the local sheriff? Are there guidelines that specifically dictate that?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No. There are, obviously, public procurement guidelines that dictate how the tender will be conducted. We advertised-----

I am talking about where there were no tenders for 73 contracts.

Mr. Michael Culhane

There might be a-----

When there is no tender, does the Garda Síochána have its own guidelines that instruct people how to proceed? Is it a case of seeking the services of John the local tow truck owner?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No. Wherever possible, either the local superintendent or chief superintendent should obtain a number of quotations.

I agree and I know how tenders work. We are specifically talking about instances where the procurement guidelines were not followed. In the event that they were not followed, namely, where there is an emergency and a need to move quickly, what are the guidelines then? Is it a case of contacting the first person that is available? I am using the example of the tow truck but I am sure there are others.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes. Obviously, the nature of an emergency will dictate the type of services that are required and there is also the ability of the person involved to respond. So there is a combination of-----

Let us say it cost €1 million for tow trucks and €2 million for the medical side. That means we are down to €8.5 million. What were the other costs?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Unfortunately, I just did not bring that breakdown of that list with me. I am trying to think of it.

It was a pretty obvious question for us to ask.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Perhaps it was.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Culhane did not bring the list.

Mr. Michael Culhane

I can provide that list. It is something that we submit to the Comptroller and Auditor General. I do not know if he has a copy with him.

Does Mr. McCarthy have the list with him?

Mr. Seamus McCarthy

No. I do not have it with me.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Chair, we can provide a note on the breakdown of the 73 contracts.

Fine. I presume that those who did not go through that had tax clearance.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

The witnesses might provide a note - in the context of tax clearance - on the people to whom the Garda made the payments.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes, we can do that.

Sorry, Deputy MacSharry.

How would the Garda know whether an organisation had tax clearance if it was not following-----

They have-----

Mr. Michael Culhane

Because the payment has passed through the financial shared services centre. They cannot make a payment unless there is a tax clearance certificate.

Has it ever arisen that the Garda has used the services of somebody who did not have his or her tax clearance?

Mr. Michael Culhane

As far as I am aware, Deputy, unless they have a tax clearance certificate, we will not do business with them.

I know. We were talking about emergencies and I am still at €8.5 million. I understand the position regarding moneys spent on tow trucks and the medical contract but I do not know where the other €8.5 million has gone. I appreciate that the Garda Síochána will provide us with the breakdown. Surely , Mr. Culhane, as the head of finance, would be aware of the details. I know it is a big Vote.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

Surely he could give a best guess on where the €8.5 million went.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Sorry?

Mr. Culhane could give a best guess in respect of where most of that €8.5 million went. I am not talking about sundries worth a couple of thousand euro, I am talking about €8.5 million.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

Apart from towing and the medical contract that Mr. Culhane has mentioned, what else was there?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Chair, rather than guessing, it might be more appropriate that we provide a detailed note to the committee and we can deal with the various aspects of the matter to which the Deputy refers.

It is a little bit frightening that we would be obliged to guess at all in respect of such an amount of money. This is the Committee of Public Accounts and the issue raised relates to 73 contracts in respect of which €11.5 million was spent. The witnesses do not have the list with them so we do not know where the money went. That does not inspire confidence. Any business of whatever size would broadly know on what it has spent €1 million, €3 million or whatever, as opposed to saying that it does not have a clue and that it did not bring the list.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I suppose, in the interests of accuracy and of openness and transparency-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----it is probably more appropriate rather than guessing and then maybe having to correct something that we would provide an accurate note to the committee.

I suggest that a phone call be made to the Garda procurement section and that it be asked to forward the information by fax, email or carrier pigeon.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We have asked somebody to action that, Chair, and hopefully we will have it before the committee.

We are going to get it. The Accounting Officer must accept that the committee is very disappointed. We are discussing 2015 accounts. The 73 contracts were highlighted in the report so it was obvious that we were going to ask for details.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

Somebody has gone out to get the list.

We will move on but we will come back to the matter.

Yes. I had to ask the obvious question. The witnesses will know for the future.

Just over €15 million has been spent on travel and subsistence. Can I have a breakdown on how travel and subsistence arises?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Basically, as we said before, the Vote is demand driven. Travel and subsistence would arise where some member of An Garda Síochána - either a garda or a civilian member - has to travel either on duty or is kept away from their station in respect of operational duties.

Or if he or she had to go to a court in another town, city or something like that.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

All right. It is overnight costs and subsistence. Are the normal State rates applied?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

The figure is high.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

Is the figure consistent with other years? I did not look at the figures for other years.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

In terms of the demand-driven activity of An Garda Síochána, we would have certainly seen an increase over the years. Obviously, there are a number of demands on the organisation, not least - as we mentioned in the opening statement - of which is the implementation of Operation Thor, which was a response to a surge in property crime throughout the country. It has led to or the return on investment demonstrates an over 35% decrease in property crime, in particular, and burglaries. That is a very significant decrease. Also, in terms of the gangland feud, one would have seen right around the country a number of hybrid patrols where we have both armed and unarmed members patrolling together. All of those operational demands are very resource intensive.

Would personnel have to use their own cars in those instances?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No, not always. People may have to use their own cars to travel to different events. What I am talking about are primarily operational deployments and operational duties. We would have invested significantly in the fleet as well and would have secured a lot of investment.

Again, if the Ms O'Sullivan does not have the information, she can forward it to us. What are personnel allowed to claim? Can they claim expenses from their homes or from the Garda stations at which they are based?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The claiming of allowances is in accordance with Civil Service rules.

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is exclusively in compliance with Civil Service rules. Any subsistence or travel is obviously from their point of duty and not from home. Subsistence is in accordance with the rules relating to subsistence payments.

I shall move on. The sum of €92,995 was spent on PR firms, which is up on the previous figure of €10,400. On what was €92,995 spent?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

As part of our modernisation and renewal programme, we have committed to opening up the organisation. I do not have the exact breakdown here, but maybe some of my colleagues do. The moneys would again have been spent on training Garda and civilian members around the country for interaction with local radio and local media, for example, on some of the information messages that would have gone out around Operation Thor and the "lock up and light up" campaign. Again, we can provide an exact breakdown or maybe some of my colleagues would have it, but that is what it would have been.

That would be good. Did any of the witnesses before us receive training out of this budget?

Mr. Donáll Ó Cualáin

Received general media training, yes

Did Mr. Ó Cualáin receive training paid for from this amount?

Mr. Donáll Ó Cualáin

I attended one session which was a media training event.

What about the Commissioner?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No. Maybe it is an opportunity, if I may Chair, to do something. I have seen a lot of speculation and commentary. Particularly, I think there was a figure of €140,000 mentioned which apparently I spent in terms of preparing for Committee of Public Accounts meetings. That is completely untrue. I have never received any preparatory training. Like yourself, Chair, I am not sure where that reporting came from. Certainly, no, I did not.

So the €92,000 was for people who would have to be spokespeople for local radio after a crime or were being consulted on an issue or something.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

And, for example, district offices. As the Deputy will have seen, one of the criticisms we have received is that we are insular and defensive. Some of the inspectorate reports quite rightly raised the fact we need to speak more openly to the media. The Deputy would have seen a lot of our local officers around the country engaging more with the media. We have found that part of public reassurance is to get on local radio stations in particular and give out messages of reassurance and crime prevention and stories of interest to local communities.

Why is that figure of €46 million in cash so high?

Mr. Michael Culhane

There were 53 pay dates in 2015, which is unusual because generally speaking there are obviously 52, but it was just purely timing. The last pay date was on 31 December 2015. To ensure there was sufficient cash in the account to meet the payroll, there were additional funds put in on that date. Obviously, because 1 January was a bank holiday-----

That is a monthly payment. What would be a monthly payroll?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The payroll is weekly and fortnightly.

How much would it be per month? Is it €40 million or €50 million?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No, it would be in the order of €18 million.

However, we have nearly two and a half times that.

Mr. Michael Culhane

No. There is €46 million. The payroll is weekly and fortnightly. That money would be put into the bank account to meet that particular payroll.

Who manages that money when it is-----

Mr. Michael Culhane

The Financial Shared Services Centre in Killarney.

Would all that money all be kept in cash or would it be in-----

Mr. Michael Culhane

Cash. When the Deputy says it is in -----

----- high-interest accounts?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The Financial Shared Services Centre draws down cash as it requires it from the Paymaster General. It just puts itself in funds, as it requires, to meet the cheque run.

So the Garda felt it needed that level to meet-----

Mr. Michael Culhane

That is what the Financial Shared Services Centre said it required.

There were prepayments of €11.7 million. Presumably prepayments are where one pays for stuff in advance.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

For what were we paying €11.7 million?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The principal item related to the TETRA radio system. It is billed every quarter and the bill had just arrived before the end of the financial year. It was for just over €8 million. That would be the principal item in there, but there would be normal type prepayments as one would expect in that type of business.

St. Paul's Garda Medical Aid Society is an internal group that pays private health insurance for members or they get a special deal. Is that right?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is an external-----

It is like a VHI, is it not?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is like a VHI but it is external to An Garda Síochána.

It is for health insurance for members, retired members, widows, widowers, family and so forth. Some €124,000 was paid to it. Why would the Central Fund be paying €124,000 to it?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The medical society is generally exclusively for An Garda Síochána. It is meeting bills. For example, where members are injured on duty, it would meet all the expenses associated with that and then it would get it refunded once the court has awarded the money. The medical fees would be refunded and the medical aid society would be compensated. It is in recognition of the prepayment of expenses on behalf of members that a grant is made, with Department of Justice and Equality sanction, to the medical aid society.

Let us say this health insurance company pays for the treatment of a garda who was injured in the line of duty. If that results in a case where a third party has to pay compensation, does the member pay the Garda Síochána and then it pays St. Paul's Garda Medical Aid Society?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No, it goes directly to the medical aid society.

However, it did not. It went from the Garda Síochána to the medical aid society.

Mr. Michael Culhane

It depends on the court award. The court could say "ay directly" or it could say-----

How would the Garda Síochána directly be paid?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is a subvention. This is €124,000 paid from the Garda fund.

Mr. Culhane used the word "subvention". Does the Garda subvent the premiums for members or certain members for their health insurance?

Mr. Michael Culhane

No. It is a subvention to the medical aid society in recognition of the fact it is prepaying medical expenses for which it will then subsequently be reimbursed once a court case has been settled.

Is this an annual amount of €124,000?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is, yes.

Is it always €124,000?

Mr. Michael Culhane

I think it was reduced during the financial emergency. I think it was more than €130,000 at the time and then it was reduced to €124,000.

The Central Fund has always made a contribution to this fund. Is that approved by the Department of Justice and Equality?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Correct.

I have a number of questions for the Commissioner on mandatory alcohol testing and what has been described as inconsistencies. I understand we have two interim reports, the first on 24 April and the second on 26 June of this year. The Commissioner will know we were hoping to have the completed report today in order that we could examine it and perhaps get answers to questions on which people are awaiting answers on this issue. Why is that report not complete?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The work is ongoing to complete the report. First, I must explain something. As the Deputy knows, the Policing Authority has also commissioned a company, Crowe Howarth, to conduct this work. This week, Michael O'Sullivan and I met the company. It will have 22 people looking at this. It will do it over a number of weeks. That will be a continuation of the work undertaken by Michael O'Sullivan. We are looking at a system that goes back. I can have my colleague, Michael Finn, who is in charge of roads policing, explain in detail what we are looking at and the number of records. The records go way back over a number of years - all the way back to 2005. It is hugely time consuming to examine all the records and collate all the information that is available. I think Michael O'Sullivan in his updated position report outlines that he will be finished by the end of July.

I can partially understand that, but at the same time it is unacceptable given we are so far down the road on this issue. When did An Garda Síochána first become aware of these inconsistencies?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I can get the assistant commissioner, Mr. Finn, to answer that.

All I want is the date. I do not want the background. I just want the date of when the organisation first became aware of it.

Mr. Michael Finn

The organisation first became aware of the issues when we conducted a review in the southern region, going back to late 2015.

Late 2015----

Mr. Michael Finn

That was extended into a national audit in the-----

I thank Mr. Finn. That was all I needed to know. An Garda Síochána first became aware in late 2015. We are now into the summer of 2017 and the Commissioner, as Accounting Officer, is still not in a position to provide us with information on what happened. We have two interim reports that do not reveal much.

All they say is that certain areas need to be examined and information needs to be gathered and so on, but we have no concrete answers yet. We were hoping we would be able to discuss this today but we are not in a position to do so. I find it unacceptable that it is the case. We should have had that report for this meeting. Would the Commissioner forgive us for being cynical about that and for thinking there are potentially other motives for why that report was not completed? Surely it is the Commissioner's job to make sure appropriate resources are given to any examination of this nature. It is something that is very serious for her organisation. I would have imagined she would have made sure they have all the resources they need to do their work and to conclude it as quickly as possible.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I reject any accusation that we were acting in way sinisterly. It was quite the opposite. This issue, from the time it was identified, has been dealt with completely openly, completely transparently and completely in the public view. The work is continuing by Assistant Commissioner O'Sullivan. He was given six months in which to complete the work. As the committee will see, he has indicated in his updated position report that his work will be completed by the end of July which is ahead of schedule. As I have said, the Policing Authority has also taken an interest in this and quite rightly so. It has appointed an external company and of course we will be assisting it fully. This is happening in full openness and full transparency. The resources that are required to be given to it are being given to it. We have given an undertaking to the Policing Authority and to the company that is looking at this that they will have the full support of An Garda Síochána-----

I thank the Commissioner and can I-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Sorry, if I could finish please.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The issues we identify will be fully dealt with. Any suggestion that it is in some way sinister behaviour I completely reject and I put that on the record.

As the Commissioner is putting that on the record, let us be clear I did not use the word "sinister". When the Commissioner is correcting the record, she should at least listen to what people say because I never used the word "sinister". I think it is reasonable for me to put to the Commissioner that she and her organisation found out about this in late-2015. We are in the middle of 2017 and she is still not in a position, as the head of the organisation and its Accounting Officer, to tell us what happened. That is the point I am making. I will give an example of why I am frustrated.

I am looking at the two interim reports. There is an issue which - pardon the pun - is breathtaking for me. I cannot understand how the information on the Dräger equipment and specifically procurement is still not available to us. Information on the number purchased and the number distributed to the various divisions compared with the number of breath tests recorded on PULSE is not available. The same issue is referenced in the interim report of 26 June 2017. It lists under the heading of issues to be dealt with and information sought the national Dräger audit to acquire the most accurate figure for the number of breath tests recorded on the Dräger machines and also the number that were procured. How is it not possible to provide us with that information? It seems to me to concern basic purchasing of equipment. The Garda purchases and pays for a set number of mouthpieces and equipment and then a set number is used. Perhaps the Commissioner is in a position today to give us that information but up to now she has not been. Questions were asked about procurement earlier. Does the Commissioner have that information to hand today?

Mr. Michael Finn

Can the Deputy be specific?

I would have thought it was fairly obvious but I will repeat it again for Mr. Finn. I am looking at the two interim reports and it talks about the mouthpieces, which are a crucial part of these breath tests. Is that correct?

Mr. Michael Finn

Yes. That is correct.

That is a piece of equipment. Is that correct?

Mr. Michael Finn

Absolutely.

It has to be purchased.

Mr. Michael Finn

Correct.

There has to be a set number. I imagine if there were some in the system, Mr. Finn would know how many had been purchased and would also be able to tell me how many were used for the time period.

Mr. Michael Finn

Correct.

Does Mr. Finn have that information?

Mr. Michael Finn

Assistant Commissioner O'Sullivan has accumulated most of that information. He has not completed it yet because while it is very simple to account for the number we purchased, the difficulty is trying to reconcile how many we used over the period going back to 2006 to compare it with the figures-----

I will make Mr. Finn's job easier for him. My understanding is that on the PULSE system the number of recorded tests from October 2011 to December 2016 was 1,996,365. On the Medical Bureau of Road Safety's figures, it was 1,058,157. Mr. Finn should be in a position to tell me today in that period from October 2011 to December 2016, were there 1,996,365 mouthpieces?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I will explain because it may assist. The equipment is purchased by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety and, as Assistant Commissioner O'Sullivan has outlined in his report, one of the pieces of work that is ongoing is trying to correlate the data from the PULSE system with the data available from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety.

My point still stands. There is basic purchasing involved here. Either there were 1,996,365 mouthpieces or not. It is incredible we still do not have that information. I find it incredible. I want the Commissioner or Mr. Finn, if he is more aware, to talk me through how this works. How does the mandatory breath testing work from when the vehicle leaves the station? Before it leaves the station, what does it do? Does a garda have to go and get a set number of these mouthpieces? How are they signed for? How are they recorded? Will the Commissioner or Mr. Finn talk me through that process so I have a better understanding?

Mr. Michael Finn

We have a number of Dräger machines allocated to each Garda district. There would not be one for every Garda vehicle so they are shared. A regular patrol car going out would have one and they would have a stock of mouthpieces to be used for the testing.

How are they given that stock? Will Mr. Finn just bear with me? Do they have to sign for it?

Mr. Michael Finn

We get that stock from the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. It allocates them to us in our central stores in Santry and then they get distributed around the country. That is going on for the past 15-----

Bear with me. Are they recorded? If there is a patrol going out and they get a set number, is it then recorded how many they are given?

Mr. Michael Finn

No, it was not. That is part of our difficulty in trying to reconcile the figure.

That was never done.

Mr. Michael Finn

The stores in Santry allocates a batch of perhaps 10,000 to a division and they are distributed to Garda stations.

So it is possible then-----

Mr. Michael Finn

Nobody was recording that, for example, one garda station got ten or another station got 15. We were not breaking it down to that level in terms of who used what and that is the difficulty we have in trying to reconcile the figures.

Mr. Finn is saying that so casually as if it is something that is acceptable.

Mr. Michael Finn

It is a fact. I know it is a fact from going back and checking with the Medical Bureau of Road Safety when it purchased it and from checking with our own section in Santry and looking down at their records. If we had that information, we would have readily shared it with the committee and when we broke this information the first day but we do not have that information.

What I am saying to Mr. Finn is that it is bizarre. It is almost beyond belief that there would be no recording of how many is given to each unit that goes out. There is no proper recording. Now that we know that did not happen, will Mr. Finn bear with me? The patrol goes out and sets up a mandatory checkpoint. It then has to do a set number of these mandatory tests. I was stopped on two occasions and was clean as a whistle. If that happens and a person is sent on their way, is his or her name, driver licence number and registration card number recorded?

Mr. Michael Finn

Not necessarily, no.

How does Mr. Finn know it was done at all?

Mr. Michael Finn

That is the difficulty that Assistant Commissioner O'Sullivan and I have in terms of trying to go back and reconcile how many exactly were done across the country.

It is impossible for Mr. Finn to know. How is it possible to know how many was done?

Mr. Michael Finn

The only record we have is the record that was on the Dräger machine. That is the record we have.

Okay, so there is no-----

Mr. Michael Finn

So if 50 cars came along and we breath tested the 50, we did not take all of their names, addresses and phone, unless we had some reason to do that. If we stopped a person and he or she had no tax, we would take the person's name and address.

But if there is 50-----

Mr. Michael Finn

If we arrested the person-----

Let us just be hypothetical-----

Mr. Michael Finn

If we subsequently arrested a person for drink driving, we would take all the details but if we just stop a person randomly and we take the details we do not record all the person's data. As the Data Protection Commissioner would probably say to me, the gardaí would not be justified in recording information if it is not needed. If I need it for an offence, then I record it.

In terms of checks and balances, let us take the round figure of 50-----

The Deputy has just gone past his ten minutes.

Let us take the round figure of 50 that Mr. Finn gave. How is it possible to ensure that 50 actually took place?

Mr. Michael Finn

Based on reconciling the Dräger-----

Yes, but that actually 50 cars were stopped. Is it possible it could have been done some other way?

Mr. Michael Finn

The garda rings in and he says "I did a mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint and I checked 50 cars; here is the reading from the Dräger at the start and here is the Dräger reading at the end."

My time is up. Can I just make one point?

Deputy Cullinane can come back in.

I accept what the Commissioner is saying on collating data but some of the information that we should have had, which I have given some examples of, should have been given to the committee.

Two years have elapsed. The Commissioner knows this is a very serious issue for An Garda Síochána that goes right to the heart of the cultural issues she talked about herself. I am concerned that the report was not made available for today's meeting.

I thank the witnesses. I will do a quick-fire round here and will jump from issue to issue because the Chairman is cracking the whip. On the issue of the Dräger machines, I understand that every machine has to be reassessed and recalibrated after six months. Does that always happen?

Mr. Michael Finn

Yes. The Medical Bureau of Road Safety gave me that data.

Are there any machines that do not end up going back after six months?

Mr. Michael Finn

I am notified if they do not come back. We then send out a note to the relevant areas to tell them that their machines are due for recalibration.

I understand that. These are really quick-fire questions because I have many things to get through. Does it ever happen that even after Mr. Finn's office sends out these notes, some areas do not recalibrate their machines?

Mr. Michael Finn

If they do not do so I send out another note telling them-----

If a machine has be recalibrated after six months, and if Mr. Finn's office sends out notes to this effect, what guarantees do we have that every machine in every individual case was in fact recalibrated? What guarantee do we have that the accuracy of an individual breath test is not jeopardised, given that the machine in question may not have been recalibrated? Does the witness get that?

Mr. Michael Finn

I do. I liaise with the Medical Bureau of Road Safety on this matter. It tells me what machines are out there.

It keeps a date and knows when six months have passed?

Mr. Michael Finn

Correct.

Can we be absolutely certain from An Garda Síochána that every single device used in every single case in this country in the last few years had been recalibrated after six months?

Mr. Michael Finn

I cannot give the Deputy the definitive answer. Mr. Michael O'Sullivan's report will look at that.

The fact that Mr Finn cannot tell us makes me very nervous. Does this not jeopardise the prosecution of a whole range of cases? As we sit here at the Committee of Public Accounts, we cannot guarantee that every device used to find out if people are over the alcohol limit has been calibrated.

Mr. Michael Finn

These devices are only indicative. They are not of evidential use.

I know that.

Mr. Michael Finn

If I arrest somebody, bring him or her to a Garda station and it then comes back that he or she is under the limit, we do not prosecute him or her.

Fair enough. What happens, however, if somebody is over the limit and an uncalibrated machine reports that he or she is under the limit? An Garda Síochána will not proceed to the next stage.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The meter we are talking about here is a counter. It just tells us that a breath test was conducted, it is not in itself a reading of the breath test.

I was intrigued when I read the documentation about this during the week. An Garda Síochána cannot guarantee that these machines are being calibrated. I presume that as part of this process the organisation will ensure that this uncertainty will all be cleared up-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

I expect that this will be absolutely mandatory. How can we be certain, however, that the whole process has not been tampered with? How can we be sure that it is absolute and perfect? We have no way of guaranteeing that every station and every division has recalibrated these machines as is necessary and specified after six months. Do the witnesses see what I am getting at? It is just a matter of fact. I want to make sure that all of this will be dealt with.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It is being dealt with.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Let us look at this in three tranches, Deputy. We have the past, which is past. We have the present, which is the fix that has been put in place. We have the future, where we will have a kind of docking station, to use an untechnical term, which will automatically-----

Fine. I am delighted to hear it. I am, however, worried about the present and about some of the cases before us.

My second question concerns penalty points. This is a technical question. Let us consider the ongoing review. Let us imagine that Mr. McCarthy here, for example, were to hypothetically be caught speeding and get a fixed notice. I am taking him as an example here because he is our independent witness. He would fill out the form and put down his credit card details. Let us say, however, that he makes a genuine error and puts his name or credit card number in the wrong place. Everything on the form is accurate but on the wrong line. What would happen after something like that? I assume that An Garda Síochána would send him another notice telling him that he has made an error and has to fix it. Is that what happens? Or does the case go straight to court?

Mr. Michael Finn

The paperwork is processed in the fixed charge penalty office in Thurles.

I know. That office presumably sends out a second notice pointing out the error. If Mr. McCarthy were not to respond, I presume that the matter would then go to court.

Mr. Michael Finn

Yes. That would be considered a non-payment.

Given what we all now know about penalty points, can Mr. Finn give an absolute 100% guarantee that anybody who ever made a genuine error like this one was definitely issued this second letter? I know of a number of people concerned who claim that they did not get such a letter. I would like to know that this is being reviewed as part of the current process, that such cases do not go straight to court, and that the second notices were indeed issued. Anyone could make a genuine error, I do it myself. A person is rushing and makes a mistake in filling out a form. People deserve the chance to fix such errors but I am concerned that some people are saying they never had such a chance. I do not think it is the fault of the office in Thurles, as it is possible that some forms never reached them. Is Mr. Finn certain that every form definitely did? As part of the ongoing process, can he please make sure that there are checks and balances in place to make sure that the forms get back to Thurles and that the scenarios I mention do not happen.

Mr. Michael Finn

I would be 100% satisfied that if, in the circumstances the Deputy describes, a form containing an error went to Thurles, the letter in question would go back out from Thurles.

Okay. Mr. Finn is 100% certain then that every single case-----

Mr. Michael Finn

Every case that went to Thurles.

How do we know that every case went to Thurles?

Mr. Michael Finn

I am answering the situation as the Deputy described it to me. I have been to the office in Thurles and am familiar with it.

I know it myself; it is my constituency. I do not think that the problem is there either. How do we know that everything gets to Thurles? Perhaps the witness could elaborate on that.

Mr. Michael Finn

I cannot vouch for something getting lost between the postbox and Thurles but they have a very efficient system there. I can stand over that.

I am not trying to put the witness on the spot, but there is a possibility there.

Mr. Michael Finn

There is a possibility of something getting lost in the post. There is no doubt about that.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I suggest that the Deputy tell us the number of people about whom he is concerned. Mr. Finn will certainly take any concerns that he may have about these individuals.

In fairness, I will not get into individual cases. I just want to make sure that all of this will be covered as part of this review.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Absolutely. From the point of view of the Committee of Public Accounts, we would not like to think that any individual citizens may have been in some way disadvantaged by that scenario. If the Deputy has concerns-----

I will say that to them and if the individuals in question want to take up the matter then let them do so. I do not, however, intend to use this process for that purpose.

Mr. Michael Finn

We have introduced the third payment option. This means that even if they miss a deadline, people still have the option of paying rather than going to court.

I am limited for time. I just wanted to clear those matters up because they were on my mind after reading some things about the system during the week.

We now have the figures, though I would have thought we would have had them from the beginning. On the issue of consultancy and controls on the €11 million, we spoke about Accenture and its contracts. Everything that Accenture ever got had been tendered. Is that accepted? I presume that this is what we said, Mr. Culhane. Who signed the contract for SIS on behalf of An Garda Síochána? Who was chief administrative officer, CAO, at the time?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

This was in December 2016 so I was CAO. I did not sign the contract, however. That would have been the head of ICT.

I just want confirmation that this, along with all of the other Accenture contracts, had been tendered for. Accenture is a big supplier to An Garda Síochána. I seek confirmation that nothing was rolled over or continued beyond the duration of the contract that was not tendered for. Is that right?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The skill resources contract was put in place in 2009 and, subject to the sanction of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, that contract was rolled over.

Did the Department sanction that?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It did.

That is fine then. I have no issues with that. I just wanted to make sure that every single contract, other than the one just mentioned by the witness, was tendered for.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

We also have to remember that there are also security derogations. There are particular circumstances in which we get approval to apply that where-----

I understand that. I would be very concerned, however, if they were massive and if there were huge amounts of money involved.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

All I am saying is that these are looked at on an individual basis and with the approval of the Attorney General's office that the security derogation should apply.

As long as these circumstances are approved by the Attorney General's office then that is okay.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

Yes.

Did Accenture ever provide any other services other than IT?

Did it ever provide professional development, PR, coaching or interviewing skills to anybody in the organisation?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Not that I am aware of.

There was no coaching, interviewing skills, PR or anything like that?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No. There has been much speculation, and I have read several reports-----

I accept what the witness is saying. Accenture does IT consultancy and it has never done any coaching or interview skills for anybody within the organisation. That is fine.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I should say that this is to the best of our knowledge. We cannot account for all 16,000 people.

I accept that. I apologise for rushing, but I have a list of questions here.

You have one minute remaining.

For a company like Accenture or any similar company which has massive contracts worth tens of millions, would it be appropriate for organisations like that to sponsor major events for the Garda?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

I am not aware of any-----

I am not limiting this to just one organisation. I am talking about any organisation.

Mr. Michael Culhane

We make it clear in our documentation on dealing with third party suppliers that they are under no obligation whatsoever to-----

Is the witness saying that this does not happen?

Mr. Michael Culhane

To the best of my knowledge it does not, but that this not to say that a member might not ask the companies for some sort of sponsorship on a purely personal level.

I am not talking about €20 or €50 or anything like that. I am talking about large events, publications or large gatherings involving the Garda. When it comes to the issue of the management of property, I understood that Deputy Commissioner Ó Cualáin was appointed to put structures in place and a modernisation programme to ensure property was protected. In terms of phones, IT equipment and documentation, would the witnesses agree that the process put in place have worked?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Perhaps the Deputy could explain the question as we may be talking about two separate things. Are we talking about the property and exhibit management stores?

We are talking about how equipment that is valuable to this organisation and is owned by it, such as files, IT equipment, computers or data storage mechanisms. As part of the modernisation process I had understood that Deputy Commissioner Ó Cualáin was put in charge of making sure protocols were put in place to maintain this information in order that none of it could ever go missing. Are these protocols working? If I am wrong and this does not exist please tell me.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We spoke earlier about Deputy Commissioner Ó Cualáin's role. As part of his risk governance role and the modernisation and renewal programme he implements the property and exhibit management system for the organisation. That is property that comes into the possession of an Garda Síochána, either by way of evidence, seized property, car accidents or in some similar way. Deputy Commissioner Ó Cualáin is in charge of that, and as we said to Deputy Connolly earlier, it is our view that that is working. The mitigants have been put in place and we hope we will be back here in the future.

I am specifically asking about assets. This is the Committee for Public Accounts. It is not always about figures. I am asking about assets.

The Deputy should finish now.

This is an important question.

Yes, but other Deputies have important questions too.

IT equipment, data storage mechanisms and mobile phones change. Where are the historical systems maintained? Are they maintained properly and have they been maintained over recent years? These do not just have asset value on the books. There is also the value of public information.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We have an assets register which is maintained and managed.

Mr. Michael Culhane

For the physical control of physical assets we have a fixed assets register which is subject to audit, and we also conduct audits ourselves to ensure the IT equipment in particular is maintained. We track the assets either by serial number or by an asset tag. There is an information retention policy to deal with the information that is contained on it.

And it has been working perfectly for the last number of years.

Mr. Michael Culhane

I am not on the operational side of policing, but as far as I am aware it certainly is.

That is good to know.

I want to start by talking about road traffic fines. In 2015, there was an amount outstanding of just over €1 million, compared with €217,000 at the end of 2014. How would the witnesses account for that increase?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Fines are collected centrally and we in turn pay them over to the central Exchequer. There is a certain timing involved in this. We would normally pay over the money at the end of a month. It is a question of how much money is in the account at the time. The Deputy mentioned that there was €217,000 which then rose to €1 million. That merely reflects the timing of the payment to the central Exchequer. Given the timing, at the end of the financial year, it seems that the amount had accumulated. It would have been paid over in January.

When a person gets a fine the member in charge is noted on it and the person pays the member in charge. Is the cashing of these cheques always followed through with?

Mr. Michael Culhane

The fines are actually outsourced to An Post, so we do not collect the fines ourselves. Every fortnight An Post pay into the An Garda Síochána account the amount of money it has collected, minus its fees. It provides a file which is integrated into the PULSE system in order that there is matching between what has been paid and the register of fines which are outstanding.

Is the PULSE system reconciled with the paper records?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes, there is an exchange of two files between the An Post system and the PULSE system, so there is a reconciliation of fines which have been paid and fines which are outstanding.

Is a record kept of the number of warrants that have not been executed?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Warrants are dealt with by a separate system so I will defer to the Commissioner on that.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We do keep a register of warrants. We work with the Courts Service on that, and Deputy Commissioner Ó Cualáin has a group which looks at warrants regularly.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

That is on the operational side. Deputy Commissioner Twomey has the group that looks at the management of warrants. That is an ongoing challenge for us. We keep getting the warrants, so it is a question of keeping them moved on. If people move the warrants have to move with them. Significant work has gone into supporting that from an ICT and tracking point of view.

Is there any evidence that warrants are not executed because somebody has not been able to move them on? What is the challenge?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

The biggest challenge is the fact there are a significant number of warrants relating to people who have left the jurisdiction. There are also people who move around often for whom we might not have the most recent address.

There is no question of money being paid directly and not being lodged? It is always paid to An Post.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No, as Mr Culhane said, it is outsourced to An Post.

Accommodating an increased intake of recruits was mentioned in the opening statements. Many Garda stations have been closed in recent years.

I have a list of the stations that were sold and the amount achieved for them. As little of €15,000 was paid for one of them, so it must not have been up to much. I presume it was the OPW and not the Garda Síochána that was involved in the sales.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It was the OPW.

The Garda Síochána presumably has an input in regard to the stations to be retained, including, for example, Stepaside Garda station, which it has been reported in the media recently is to be re-opened. I presume that properties were not put on the market if there was any prospect of their being re-opened. What dialogue took place between An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice and Equality regarding the Garda stations to be sold? Some of the stations were sold for very little because at the time of sale the property market was at its lowest. The Garda Síochána now has to purchase new accommodation to meet additional intake. I would have expected there to have been an element of future-proofing on the part of An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice and Equality in respect of the sale of Garda stations. Can the Commissioner outline what happened?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

There are two aspects. The challenge I referred to in my opening statement relates to what the Deputy is talking about, namely, future-proofing. The Government has committed to increasing the strength of the organisation to 21,000, which we very much welcome and I believe will benefit the citizens of the State hugely, but this poses challenges in terms of future-proofing the accommodation requirements. The building programme under way provides for the opening this year of three significant headquarters in Galway, Wexford and Kevin Street in Dublin. These will be prototypes for future Garda stations. As I mentioned in my opening statement, the current estate, which we inherited, is old and archaic. Many of the buildings are unfit for purpose, including some that are currently occupied. In addition to the major building programme, a refurbishment programme is under way on a number of sites throughout the country, including in Sligo, Macroom and Clonmel.

Would it be possible to add Portlaoise to the list?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

There are also a number of upgrade programmes under way to meet demands as the organisation grows and new members are recruited. For example, there have been a number of initiatives implemented under the modernisation renewal programme, such as victims' service offices. We are encouraging people to engage with the Garda and we want to give them dignity and privacy in their dealings with individual gardaí. People who come to us traumatised may be vulnerable victims who we wish to interview and we need to ensure we have in place the proper accommodation and facilities where they can be treated with dignity and respect.

I accept there are inherited stations that have not been fit for purpose for a long time but what I am trying to get at is whether we are selling or have sold stations that could have been refurbished or were fit for purpose and replacing them, at great cost, to accommodate need into the future.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The stations that were closed and sold were no longer fit for purpose from An Garda Síochána's point of view. We were asked to review the closure of a few stations. Based on the census data and the most recent crime statistics, which I outlined for Deputy Cullinane, the situation has changed considerably over the last three years. A review of the displacement effect of those crime figures is being overseen by the Policing Authority and the Garda Inspectorate.

We are told that a small number of stations will be re-opened. On what basis were these stations not included in the list of properties for sale? Were they retained because there was doubt about whether closing or selling them was a good idea and are there others in this category?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Once the stations were closed they became the responsibility of the OPW. It would be for the OPW to respond on how it prioritised the sale of particular buildings.

The decisions in this regard may have been somewhat short-sighted if at the end of the day the Garda Síochána has to purchase more expensive replacement accommodation. However, I accept it is a matter for the OPW.

In regard to charges for services such as, for example, cash-in-transit operations, is there a written agreement in that regard with the Irish Banking Federation and on what basis is the charge applied?

Mr. Michael Culhane

There is a memorandum of understanding, which was signed by the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Senator McDowell, the then Secretary General of that Department and the then Garda Commissioner, to the effect that we would recover the cost of providing those services from the Irish Banking Federation. There is a written agreement and the mechanism for charging has been agreed with the Irish Banking Federation. An Garda Síochána seeks to recover the full cost of providing the services.

Are there similar agreements in respect of other services or similar streams of income from other sources?

Mr. Michael Culhane

There is also the non-public duty service, for example, the provision of policing services for sporting organisations in accordance with, I think, section 30 of the Act. We seek to recover the cost of providing those services. The non-public duty income amounted to approximately €4 million in the 2015 accounts.

I would like to return to the issues of warrants and of fixed notice charges because I am not clear on this issue in terms of An Garda Síochána. Where a person is detected speeding and a fixed notice charge is issued, who is in charge of at that point? Presumably, the notice is sent out to the person and the person pays the fee to An Post. What tracking takes place in terms of individual garda involvement? Is this process assigned to a particular division or is it handled centrally or in another way?

Mr. Michael Finn

Fixed charged notices and speeding fines are processed through the fixed charge notices office in Thurles. We have a computer system that tracks the process, such that there is no individual member involvement. Fines paid through An Post are paid to the office in Thurles and the money is then transferred to the Exchequer.

In regard to warrants, where a person is due in court in respect of non-payment of a fine and he or she does not turn up a warrant is issued. The warrant is issued through a local Garda division and district and it is tracked in terms of payment or otherwise. The court will have a record of what occurred. If the money is paid through the court it can then verify which warrants came back to it unpaid, paid, non-executed or cancelled. All of this is tracked between the Garda Síochána and the Courts Service.

So it is reconciled.

Mr. Michael Finn

Yes.

I welcome the witnesses. This is a familiar scenario for all of us now. Like other speakers, I have a number of questions for the witnesses and so I would appreciate brevity in their responses. Some of the questions can be answered with a "Yes" or "No". I want to cover a range of topics.

I share the frustration of colleagues, in particular Deputy Cullinane, that as of yet we are awaiting the data and information we could rightfully expect an organisation such as An Garda Síochána to produce very quickly. I am alarmed to note from the interim reports that in terms of the continuous professional development of members of An Garda Síochána it appears there was, and perhaps is, no specific training for officers in respect of manning these stations and taking these tests. I find that extraordinary. I think it is extraordinary from the point of view of An Garda Síochána and extraordinary that its parent Department would not ask questions and demand evidence that such basic professional formation is in place. I am not asking for a response in this regard because these matters I am assuming will be matters for another day. I say that only for the purpose of putting it on the record.

Did the Commissioner recommend the re-opening of Stepaside Garda station to the Government?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Assistant Commissioner O'Driscoll was asked to do a study in his capacity as community engagement and public safety officer. He reviewed a number of Garda stations, within a specified criteria, right around the country.

Was it Assistant Commissioner O'Driscoll who communicated the message to Government that it should be one of the stations to be re-opened?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

His report was communicated yes.

Did the Commissioner have sight of that report before it went to Government?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The Deputy Commissioner had sight of it before it went.

Did the Commissioner have sight of it?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I did not have sight of it before it went but I am aware of it of course.

Was this recommendation made on the basis of crime statistics and need in the community?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes there were several criteria. I do not have them here but I am sure we can supply them to the Deputy. I mentioned several criteria to Deputy Murphy, including the most recent census data, crime statistics, population-----

Can we have a copy of the report that recommended the reopening of stations and the methodology, the matrix and everything applied to differentiate between Garda stations?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

That work is continuing.

It is clear that it has reached a point where the Garda was in a position to make some recommendations to Government. I want to see the background, the data and the analysis of that please.

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

The full report is due in a few weeks. There is no issue with that.

Can we even see the interim position, as far as the report has been done? When might we have that? Would it be reasonable to expect it within a day or two?

Mr. Dónall Ó Cualáin

Yes, It would.

On procurement, the witnesses can see how easy it was to produce the list we needed. It was just a matter of a phone call, which is good. One item jumps out at me: uniforms. I assume this category refers to the uniformed officers and the clothes the witnesses have on their backs. It is from Cara Ireland. Who is that and where is it based? Is it in Howth? It is item 46. What period does this refer to? Is it the last year?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is 2015.

In 2015 it was just over €40,000. Who are these people?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is a clothing company. Given the amount of money involved it would provide a specialist-----

Mr. Michael Culhane

I do not know. I would have to check that.

I went looking for it as I was listening intently to the witnesses' contributions and I could not find it. I did find a Cara Ireland Limited which is a transport security outfit based in Howth. I just want to know, for example, who these people are. If those connected with the company are listening I am not casting aspersions on it. I just want to know where it is and who it is.

The table is a bit disingenuous. The reason given for not having a competitive process is "tender in progress". Without wishing to offend, it is a bit daft to say the reason for not having a process is that there is a process under way. Can Mr. Culhane tell me when Garda uniforms last went out to tender, in what year?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It would have been several years ago but the process would have been conducted by the Office of Public Works, OPW, at the time. I am assuming in respect of this Cara item-----

I suggest it might have been as long as ten years ago that it went to competitive tender.

Mr. Michael Culhane

There are different elements in the uniform which go to tender. I assume the Cara item was probably specialist items. The tender for the general uniform is conducted through the OPW on our behalf.

Does the Garda not have control of tendering for Garda uniforms?

Mr. Michael Culhane

We do but we work with the OPW because it has the expertise-----

Does it have expertise in uniforms?

Mr. Michael Culhane

It has expertise in tailoring and indeed in uniforms.

Does it have expertise in tailoring?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Yes.

Could Mr. Culhane give us a note on that because I would like to know-----

We could write directly to the OPW.

How much is spent on uniforms and when did it last go to competitive tender? I am casting no aspersion on tailors or clothing providers anywhere on the island.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We can certainly provide that detail. The requirement for uniforms reduced considerably because of the moratorium on recruitment.

I take that point.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It may be that it was ten years ago but that may well be justified. I would like to take the opportunity to comment on two things the Deputy mentioned.

The Commissioner may comment very briefly.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The Deputy mentioned her surprise at the data that is not available.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

She also mentioned the continuing professional development, CPD, training. As with the moratorium on recruitment, the past few years have seen a serious reduction in training. In any public or private sector organisation when recession and moratorium hit training is one of the things seriously affected. We are addressing that. As the Garda Inspectorate has pointed out in several reports, and this is a perennial problem and challenge for us, the Committee on Public Accounts, PAC, other committees and organisations rightfully expect that we have ready access to data and information that we do not have because our systems are so archaic that the information is not available to us and the work that Mr. O'Sullivan-----

I thank the Commissioner. That point is expanding.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Could I just finish?

No the Commissioner cannot.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I think it is very important.

No, the Commissioner cannot continue, she is talking down the clock.

I am chairing the meeting. I will not cut the person-----

This is my questioning period.

I will give the Deputy the time but I will let the witness finish the sentence.

Well, then, she needs to speed up.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I just want to say that one of the difficulties Michael O'Sullivan is encountering in his examination is that he is rooting through old paper-based systems and they are partial systems.

I hear that. Members of the Oireachtas have spoken vociferously on the recruitment moratorium and the lack of resources for the organisation. They have spoken even more loudly than senior Garda management. That basic data cannot be retrieved speedily in 2017 is a chaotic situation. That is my point. With respect, senior management should be shouting from the rooftops and not perhaps being so politically cautious on such issues.

What is the Commissioner's reaction to the concern that there was a discrepancy in some of the evidence given by several of her officers in the recent court hearing of the incident at Jobstown? It has been a matter of wide public commentary, including by An Taoiseach. Has the Commissioner spoken to the officers in question? Has she spoken to the Taoiseach on this matter? What form is the review of these concerns taking?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I am very aware of the recent trial. As in all such cases all the parties involved are entitled to and need to be afforded due process, natural justice and fair procedure. Beyond that I do not want to talk about the court case or the process.

Assistant Commissioner Barry O'Brien was appointed to conduct a review from a lessons learned perspective, of the circumstances surrounding the events that unfolded in Tallaght. I am very conscious that I am constrained and precluded from saying too much because several matters remain before the courts and I do not want to say anything that would in any way prejudice or jeopardise anything that is going on at the moment. If anybody has concerns about anything that transpired arising from-----

They can go to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----the protest or any other matters GSOC is available or indeed-----

Thank you. Just for-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

If I may finish, or any Garda station and of course-----

Of course. I thank the Commissioner for that reassurance-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----their complaints will be treated seriously.

-----we take that as read as citizens of this State. Is Barry O'Brien reviewing lessons learned from an operational policing perspective on how the operation was handled in Jobstown on the day in question?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

He is reviewing the circumstances from a lessons learned perspective.

Is that lesson learned on the day?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No. The circumstances of the entire affair.

That includes the prosecution.

I am not asking the Commissioner to review a court case. That is not any of our business. That is done and dusted. What policing action is the Commissioner taking in respect of the suggestion, the allegation even, that there was perhaps a deliberate ruse by members of the force to give incorrect evidence or an incorrect account in a court? Is that being reviewed? How is it being handled?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

As I said, Assistant Commissioner Barry O'Brien has been appointed to conduct a review from a lessons learned perspective. I am very conscious of the independence of the executive arms of the State, particularly the law officers and the court system.

I do not think that I can comment any further on anything that happened before the courts or any matters that remain before the courts or remain in a judicial process.

I am not inviting the Garda Commissioner to do anything of the sort. It would be entirely and wholly inappropriate to do so. I think we can agree it would be a most serious matter if it transpired that anybody - much less an officer of the law - had given incorrect evidence to a court and it would be all the more serious if it were done in a co-ordinated way. I think we can agree that that would be a most serious matter. I am not asking the Garda Commissioner to adjudicate as to whether that happened. What I am asking is what she has done given that this suggestion and concern is in the public domain and has been reiterated by An Taoiseach. I want to know if Assistant Commissioner O'Brien is investigating and reviewing that matter. Is he is speaking to the officers in question and has the Garda Commissioner spoken to them? Where is that issue in the review of events around Jobstown?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

At fear of repeating myself, Assistant Commissioner O'Brien has been appointed to conduct a review of the entire matter from a lessons learned perspective-----

Does the review include the matter I have raised?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----and he will conclude his review.

Will the review include the matter I have raised?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

As I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, the courts system is completely independent.

I am well conversant with the courts system. The Garda Commissioner is deliberately not answering my question. It is either the case that Assistant Commissioner Barry O'Brien is reviewing everything, including the grave matter of public concern around potential perjury or misleading of the court, which could not be more serious, or he is not investigating this matter and is simply looking at the operational matters on the day and the background to them. I simply want to know which of these is the case.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

If I could say, perjury is obviously a very serious matter. It is also a criminal offence. If anybody has a suspicion or a concern that a member of An Garda Síochána has committed a criminal offence-----

This is filibustering and it is unacceptable.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----there is a mechanism there, as I say, either through the Garda Síochána Ombudsman-----

Is Assistant Commissioner Barry O'Brien examining the allegation, worry and public concern that officers of An Garda Síochána gave misleading or false evidence to a court of law? That is a "Yes" or "No" question.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

All I can say again is what I have just said. Obviously, what I am saying is that if anybody-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----has a suspicion that a member of An Garda Síochána has engaged-----

That is not what I asked the Commissioner. It is most disrespectful to me and the committee to deliberately not answer a question.

The Deputy has exceeded her time. I will ask one question. The Commissioner stated Assistant Commissioner O'Brien will examine the operation from a lessons learned point of view. Does the review extend beyond the events of the Saturday evening in Jobstown or will it stop with those events? The operation did not-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

What I said is that the assistant commissioner is reviewing the entirety of the matter from a lessons learned perspective.

Will the review extend beyond what physically happened in Jobstown to events subsequent to that day?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

If there are issues arising from what happened at Jobstown-----

Does the review include the very serious suggestion regarding the disposition of some of the Commissioner's officers in a court of law? Is Assistant Commissioner O'Brien examining that piece of it?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Perhaps if I take it out of the court of law, it would be an easier way to answer the question because I do not want to prejudice anything that is before the court. If I take, for example, my colleagues and I appearing as witnesses at the Committee of Public Accounts, I am not suggesting that I want to separate the two issues entirely but obviously there are witnesses who appear before, for example, committees or courts and different witnesses have different accounts of matters. Some people have a direct evidence account of matters and some have a hearsay account of matters. It is important that the court, the Committee of Public Accounts or any other committee hears all of the evidence in a fair and balanced way. I am not going to second guess here the conduct of the court. What I am saying is that from An Garda Síochána's perspective, to bring it back to the Jobstown issue, it is important that, as members of An Garda Síochána, we are always told professionally to treat witnesses in a fair and reasonable manner-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----to afford them natural justice and fair procedure and also to bear in mind that different witnesses will have different accounts of events. That does not mean that one witness is right and one witness is wrong. That is why we are always taught to hear things in a fair and balanced manner.

Is Assistant Commissioner O'Brien investigating the matter that I put to the Commissioner? It is a "Yes" or "No" answer.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

What I am saying is when the totality of the matters before the court are concluded, that will then feed into the review but the totality of the matters that are before the court are not concluded so Assistant Commissioner-----

I will take that answer as a "No".

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Assistant Commissioner O'Brien has been appointed to review the circumstances leading from the whole situation in Jobstown. When the totality of the matters before the courts are concluded obviously that will be there. It would be quite inappropriate at this point for Assistant Commissioner O'Brien to interfere with matters which are before the courts.

Nobody is inviting him to do so.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

However, his process will continue.

I must let other Deputies in.

With respect, I wish to make a point. As members of the committee, Teachta McDonald and I are entitled to answers to simple questions that are put. I concur that it would be unacceptable if the Commissioner were allowed to filibuster and not answer straight questions. The Chairman has a responsibility, as cathaoirleach, to make sure we get answers to questions.

I am taking over and concluding on this issue because Deputy McDonald has gone well over her time. I ask the Garda Commissioner to correct me if I am wrong but my understanding is that Assistant Commissioner O'Brien is conducting a review of the events in Jobstown, that arising from the events at Jobstown, there are matters still before the courts and until those matters have been completed, the assistant commissioner will not be able to complete his review of this process.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes, Chair, you are correct. As I say, we are anxious that we learn from a lessons learned perspective any issues, let it be from public safety or any other issues, that arise from the whole Jobstown situation.

That is exactly the kind of remark that damages public confidence in the organisation the Commissioner heads.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Chair, as I say-----

It is the kind of filibustering and evasion that damages the Garda.

I will try to condense the issue into one sentence. While it may have taken ten minutes to get to this point, the net position is that the operation in Jobstown is being examined, as are the events leading from it, which would include court proceedings but this aspect cannot be dealt with until the proceedings have concluded and at that point, it will be possible to complete a report from the beginning of the Jobstown affair to the end of the court process.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

As such, the assistant commissioner will examine the court process at the end of the court process.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No, not the court process because he would have no authority in which to examine it. The courts are an independent institution.

Will lessons be learned regarding the prosecution?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Any lessons will be learned. I might also say, because I am picking up on Deputy McDonald's point in terms of public confidence in An Garda Síochána, that the purpose of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission being established was that if any person has a concern in relation to any activity on the part of a member of An Garda Síochána, the ombudsman commission is the independent body which can receive complaints about the conduct of any member of An Garda Síochána and that is from a public confidence point of view.

That is fine but surely to goodness the Commissioner, of all people, should have a concern.

Just to clarify for members of the public who may not get the position, even though members might get it, with regard to the possibility of an allegation of wrongdoing having been made to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, has the Commissioner been notified by GSOC of any investigation it may be conducting arising from the Jobstown affair?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No, not at this point.

If wrongdoing by members of An Garda Síochána in Jobstown or subsequent to that event is alleged, it will be a matter for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to do the investigation, rather than the Garda.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

That is correct and if I can say, we take all matters in relation to any allegations of wrongdoing against any member of An Garda Síochána with the utmost seriousness.

I am trying to bringing clarity to the issue. I call Deputy Shane Cassells.

I welcome the Garda Commissioner and her team back to the committee. I will focus on the Commissioner's opening statement and the number of gardaí because in all these debates the issue of gardaí numbers on our streets is sometimes overlooked. Is the Garda on course to meet the target it has set of increasing Garda numbers to 21,000 by 2021.?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

Yes.

The key issue that jumps out of the statement is that the focus is very much on the civilian side. Why is that the case?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Part of our commitment and the Government's key commitment is to increase the civilian membership of An Garda Síochána from 2,000 to 4,000 members.

In what specific areas will these civilian members be deployed?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

There would be a number of deployments and we have a plan in place, which I will ask Mr. Nugent to discuss.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

They will be deployed in a number of ways to bring professional competence into areas of specialist skills.

What areas of specialist skills?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

They could be finance, technology or human resource management. Those are just examples.

It is quite a number at 2,000, which is a 100% increase.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

That is one part of it. Another part of it is to release those gardaí who have been involved in back office duties, if I can use that phrase, around the country to be available for operational policing roles. Administrative tasks take place around the country and we intend to provide civilian members to free up that group as well.

Again, is there a plan for the redeployment of 2,000 gardaí to front-line duty by 2021 in Garda stations throughout the country?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

We have a plan for the 500 this year, because that is what has been promised to us for this year. We have a process of developing a workforce plan that will get into the level of detail the Deputy seeks. That will be available at the end of this year. However, our primary focus at present is on the allocation that was sanctioned for 2017 and we have a plan for that.

There will be a plan every year, year on year, for the next number of years.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

There will be a plan for every year.

Can that be provided to us in terms of the Garda stations where those numbers, including the 500 for this year, are being redeployed?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

We can provide the committee with the workforce plan that details some of that, and we can revert to the committee as other plans emerge. I do not have a plan for 2018 today, but we will have plans for those periods as we go forward.

I wish to focus on one aspect, because it is the most important. I will put it in context. The force has a spend of €1.5 billion and €1 billion of that is on wages, so the focus is on the human element or human capital of where those gardaí will be deployed. Deputy Catherine Murphy mentioned this earlier. Is the focus specifically on urban areas or is there a focus on rural areas as well?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

It is urban and rural areas. I will give a practical example. We have a pilot process in four divisions around the country where we are looking at the manner in which those administrative services are being provided with a view to lifting them from district to divisional level. The divisions are in Mayo, Galway and Cork, as well as in Dublin. Our focus is countrywide to examine what is the right deployment model for civilian members in administrative roles in the different types of divisional structures.

I will explain why I am focusing on this. There has been much discussion this morning on ICT and the divisional headquarters being built. I pass Kevin Street every morning and it is quite an impressive building. However, the issue is what people do in that building. People listening to this discussion are interested in the Garda's style of policing and what that means. I have attended all the JPC meetings in my home county for over a decade both as a councillor and as a Deputy. There is a fear among the community. The Garda Commissioner might think it is only a perceived fear but it is a real fear. If there was not a fear about policing and crime, the 2,000 people who went to the meeting of the Paul Williams roadshow in Thurles and the 2,000 people who attended the meeting in Trim, in my home county, would not have gone to those meetings. My question is about the style of policing. Is it one in which the Garda Commissioner wishes to see the deployment of gardaí on the street? There is a big fear of anti-social behaviour and attacks on people.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The fear of crime is very real and we recognise that. Earlier, I spoke about our communications strategy and making sure we get messages across. However, the important issue is having people on the street.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The Deputy asked about the emphasis on civilianisation and having civilian members. That is to ensure that sworn gardaí are out engaging with the community and providing that level of reassurance. In terms of the additional recruitment of members, as I said earlier 198 new members last week went to stations all over the country. By the end of this year we will have 400 additional new members going to the stations. The reassurance of having boots on the street, so to speak, and having gardaí out engaging with the community is palpable and is having an effect. That is something we will have to continue-----

It is not happening in my county. It is the biggest issue in my county at present. One could see that from the front pages of the tabloid newspapers last week and from the Joe Duffy show. Following a very serious incident the front cover of my local newspaper referred to crime in Meath being out of control. A shopkeeper was beaten around the head with a glass vase by thugs. The Mayor of Navan, Councillor Tommy Reilly, who is 73 years of age, had to intervene to save his son in that incident. What is shocking is that a Garda car arrived at the scene, spoke to the thugs and then drove off. It sparked a national debate on the front covers of all the national newspapers and on the Joe Duffy show. It is a sad state of affairs for the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Garda Síochána that it takes the Joe Duffy show, apparently, to solve matters. The Garda Commissioner says there is a palpable sense of people feeling confident but not in my county or my town. A 73 year old man, the Mayor of Navan, had to intervene to save his son. The gardaí are not there. There are no boots on the ground. We do not see it. The context of me putting this question is that the Garda has a spend of €1.5 billion, of which €1 billion goes on wages. The people listening to this want to hear if the gardaí are on the ground doing their job.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I can give the Deputy an example. I extend my sympathies to the individuals the Deputy referred to and obviously it is a matter we are examining. Since recruitment commenced, 36 new members of An Garda Síochána have gone to the Meath division. That does not take account of the consequential transfers. As the Deputy knows, there are always people looking go to Meath division-----

There are also retirements.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

That factors in the retirements as well. That is the reason we welcome the Government's commitment to increasing the overall strength of the garda members of the organisation to 15,000. Allowing for an average of 300 retirements per year, that will take time. We very much welcome that by the end of this year we will have 800 new members of An Garda Síochána and we welcome the commitment to that. We cannot distribute everybody at the same time. We have a plan or distribution model where we try to factor in retirements, and I realise it has become an issue in Deputy Catherine Murphy's constituency, crime demands and population demands.

There is little point in the Garda Commissioner quoting statistics and telling me she in confident there are people on the street, if that is not the reality. That incident proves it is not the reality. Gardaí are on my local radio station every week detailing the crime. There is little point in only telling the people about the crime that has occurred when there is no follow-up. Has the Garda Commissioner got a plan whereby she instructs her chief superintendents with regard to how many people are getting back to that basic element of policing? My question is about the style of policing. I acknowledge that policing has changed and that intricate work has to be done with regard to drugs and so forth. However, people are afraid about that basic element of policing, namely, people staving off these thugs who appear to control towns such as Navan, Mullingar and Thurles. They are allowed to wander the streets and not be challenged by the force that is supposed to be protecting people. Why is it that a mother who walks down the streets of my home town of Navan is afraid? These thugs seem to think that they own the streets. They can beat a guy around the head with a glass vase and when the gardaí arrive they have a chat with them and then drive off. It took the Joe Duffy show to implement the arrests. That is crazy.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It is a matter we are taking up with local management. The Deputy asked about the style of policing. There is an assistant commissioner in charge of the eastern region, a chief superintendent in charge of the Meath division and a local superintendent in the various districts in the Meath division, including in Trim. They are responsible for delivering local, responsive policing. When issues such as the one the Deputy identified arise, they are the people with responsibility and accountability for ensuring that the measures are in place. Our responsibility is to ensure that we equip them. On top of that-----

However, does the Commissioner wish to know that the style of policing they are implementing for the force is one that gives confidence to people that they can walk down the street and that the gardaí are not stuck in the Garda station in Navan, Mullingar or Thurles or in the new headquarters in Kevin Street? That is the point of my question.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes, and in terms of measuring that confidence we carry out our public attitude survey. That is on a quarterly basis-----

The public attitude is that it is out of control. This is a picture of his face. He was beaten around the head.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

There is no doubt that it is a horrific crime. My sympathies go to the individuals involved and the family of those individuals. We are providing a policing service-----

I appreciate that, but the journalists are capturing the public attitude. The Garda Commissioner spoke to Deputies Kelly and MacSharry about the money being spent on PR and making sure that the Garda is not insular. However, the journalists in these counties are capturing the public attitude. Paul Williams is doing so on his roadshow. Is the Garda gathering that information and directing the type of policing that assuages that and gets these guys so they do not feel they control our streets, given the spend of €1 billion on wages?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Absolutely, and part of that is the deployment of new resources. More importantly, part of it is a number of the initiatives we have in place, particularly public safety initiatives such as Operation Thor.

We can provide for the committee, if the Chairman wishes, details of the successes of Operation Thor since it was implemented and the high visibility for which it provides to make sure we provide that reassurance for the community. One crime is one too many, but, unfortunately, as I said, we live in a society in which crime is a reality, as it is in all societies. However, we strive to reduce it as much as we possibly can.

Regarding Operation Thor, the traffic corps and the transport element, is An Garda Síochána trying to increase and duplicate the mobile force? Again, in my area members of the traffic corps were taken from north Meath and redeployed in south Meath, which means that one part of the county has been left without an available traffic corps. I do not want the witnesses to focus on County Meath, but is An Garda Síochána trying to increase services nationwide or just strip an already stretched service?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

One of the measures included in our public attitudes survey is visibility. I have tasked Assistant Commissioner Finn with revamping not just the traffic corps but also roads policing in its entirety to provide exactly the type of service the Deputy has described. It is a matter not alone of ensuring visibility but also the level of engagement. Does Mr. Finn wish to talk about that aspect?

We are well over time in this slot.

Mr. Michael Finn

I am aware of the reconsolidation of the traffic corps in County Meath. It was scattered all over the place and for the moment we have brought it back into one centre. We are putting extra people into traffic policing there, but we need a level of supervision and having the traffic corps scattered all over the place was probably not the most effective way to achieve this. I am aware, from talking to the chief superintendent in County Meath, that he has consolidated the traffic corps in one location. However, as we are providing for more supervision and more people there, he will have a bigger traffic corps by the end of the year.

I have to move on.

That is fine. My only concluding remark concerns the attitude of the public and the focus on it. I ask the witnesses to take away from the meeting the fact that journalists in my county are capturing the attitude of the public. If a headline reads "out of control", it reflects the attitude of the public. I ask the witnesses to ensure the style of policing adopted is one that will get these thugs in order that they, not genuine people, will be afraid to come down the street.

We will conclude this session at 12.30 p.m. because we have to deal with core services and have a slot until voting time. That is what the committee agreed to. Our business in the afternoon will involve the drafting of the report on the Garda College in Templemore, which means that all we will have are five-minute slots. Members will have to put their questions and the answers will have to be given within five minutes. I can extend the meeting until 6 p.m., but we will be here until midnight if we do it the other-----

I would like to make a comment.

We will have five-minute slots.

The rules were not complied with. We are giving out about a group before us that does not comply with the rules. We agreed to an arrangement, but it was not complied with. Perhaps we might come back to this issue in private session. We are still here at 12.15 p.m., even though we agreed to stop at 12 noon and stick rigidly to that arrangement, but that did not happen.

Hear, hear.

I do not know how they could be-----

I ensured members kept very closely to their allocated time. I have a time limit. Most members took perhaps 12 minutes instead of the ten allocated to them. In one session members took up to 20 minutes instead of ten. That was because of the debate on what had happened at Jobstown. Because the event happened in 2015, was relevant to the deployment of Garda resources and staffing and directly related to the vote today, I let the debate continue. Others might question why we had a debate on what had happened at Jobstown, but it was an event in 2015 and we are here to examine the level of Garda resources in that year. That is why I allowed the debate to continue. We will proceed with five-minute slots. Deputies Catherine Connolly, David Cullinane-----

Will the Chairman clarify how we will have 15 minutes each if-----

Five minutes.

I beg the Chairman's pardon. That is five, ten, 15-----

Only three members have indicated.

We are losing time.

That is 20 minutes.

We will finish in 20 minutes.

I would like to be precise and work to rules.

Four members have indicated. The Deputy has five minutes, starting now.

I thank the delegates for the clarification of the procurement process. I wish to go back to the matter with Mr. Culhane and the Commissioner. I would prefer if, say, in Galway local suppliers could be favoured, but, obviously, they have to comply with the procurement rules. However, what An Garda Síochána seems to be doing, inadvertently or otherwise, is allowing some suppliers to get contracts because of non-compliance with the procurement rules. Is that not right? I see the supply of vegetables and so on listed: "Peters Fruit & Veg - Catering [...] Tender in progress."

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

On what page is it listed?

It is listed on page 2 of the list the witnesses gave us. I am not seeking to identify one group. My five minutes will be up if the witnesses continue to check things.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Obviously, there is a procurement plan in place to address all of these issues. While there may be one particular item-----

There are 73 items in total. Rather than the witnesses just-----

Mr. Joseph Nugent

Let me deal with the generality of the Deputy's question. She has asked whether it will be reduced. We are saying-----

No. I have now gone beyond that and have a list before me. I am inexperienced in this area, but when I look at the list, I see there are procurement rules. An Garda Síochána's procurement non-compliance rate is approximately 10%, for which the witnesses have given us the reasons of security and sometimes urgency, but there is no such evidence for a lot of the items. While I accept that sometimes it has to be done, why would it have to be done in the supply of fruit and vegetables?

Mr. Michael Culhane

I suspect that it is not actually the supply of fruit and vegetables. On the Deputy's point about local catering, if there is an event - for example, Prince Charles visited in 2015 - there will be a requirement for catering to support that activity. That could have been the source of the particular item.

Okay. The witnesses have given me a list. Non-compliance in the case of 73 items is unacceptable. This has been the case previously and I would have expected the level of non-compliance to decrease to a small number of items and cases of non-compliance to be accounted for in emergency conditions.

Mr. Michael Culhane

It is our objective to reduce the level of non-compliance to as low as possible.

I know. Mr. Culhane has said that. Something in which I am particularly interested is the victim service offices. There is a victims directive; a Bill is in progress in that regard and the Commissioner mentioned the provision of specific offices. Will she update me on the position throughout the country?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes. We have 28 divisions throughout the country. In every division we have set up a victim service office which is staffed - this speaks to Deputy Shane Cassells' question about the roles of civilians - by both a garda and a civilian member who are trained. We have had a lot of input from victims' advocacy groups and support services in terms of the training provided, which we very much welcome. We have also set up a national protective services bureau and are in the process of rolling out the implementation of divisional protective services bureaux to support more vulnerable victims. This means that a victim can come into a Garda station, to the victims service office, which provides a link. One of the pieces of feedback we have received from victims during the years is that, because of the roster system under which gardaí are employed, a victim may not always be able to obtain an update on his or her case or may not always be able to get in touch with the local garda. The victim service office has all of the details and, particularly in the light of the victims directive and the right of a victim to be kept updated, will provide them constantly.

Will An Garda Síochána comply with all of its obligations when we pass the legislation required to provide for the actual enforcement or implementation of the directive?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes, we will. The victim service offices and the national protective services bureaux were set up to future-proof the implementation of the victims directive and the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence.

Ms O'Sullivan will accept that on many occasions the victim is lost in the process-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Absolutely.

-----and the whole idea behind the Istanbul Convention and so on is to make sure he or she is not lost and has rights.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes. The Deputy will see in our modernisation and renewal programme a very important part of our cultural shift was putting the victim at the heart of the Garda service. That is why we prioritise the victim service offices and the national protective services bureaux.

What are the non-public duties? They have been referred to. What are the payments for non-public duties?

Mr. Michael Culhane

Non-public duties involve the provision of security at concerts, sports events and any other event at which a sponsor requires a policing service.

An Garda Síochána gets back the cost of providing that service.

Mr. Michael Culhane

Correct.

There is no question of a profit.

Mr. Michael Culhane

No. The provision of such a service is designed on the basis of cost recovery.

I wish to put a couple of questions to Mr. Finn. I thank him for his earlier answers. He was most co-operative. I come back to the mandatory alcohol testing issue. Who has responsibility for management of the initiative?

Mr. Michael Finn

I do now.

When did Mr. Finn assume the role?

Mr. Michael Finn

December last year.

When Mr. Finn came into the role, he would have been aware of the issues anyway. What were his thoughts about what he saw?

Mr. Michael Finn

I was aware that there was a review related to breath tests going on. It had not been concluded. I was aware that there were difficulties trying to reconcile the figures. As the Deputy might recall from our press conference, I went to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety and I got its data. That was the revelation that we had a serious gap between what we said we had on PULSE versus what was in the Medical Bureau of Road Safety.

It was a very serious gap, of almost 1 million. On Mr. Finn's current role as a manager, while he obviously cannot be held culpable for previous failures, surely he would have been very alarmed at what he saw?

Mr. Michael Finn

Yes. One of my difficulties at the time was that I had the information but I was not able to explain what was going on. I had not gone into the in-depth analysis which my colleague is doing at the moment to see what was going on with it. Was it an IT problem or a recording issue? Those are all things that-----

Has Mr. Finn spoken to his predecessors?

Mr. Michael Finn

Yes.

What was their response about what happened and what was going on? I know there are two interim reports and we are waiting for a complete report. Surely Mr. Finn would have been trying to satisfy himself that they had some knowledge or understanding of what was happening?

Mr. Michael Finn

My initial response was to see if we could sort it out and reconcile our figures to ensure that the process we had in place was robust and stood up, and that we could say that the figures that we are broadcasting are correct. It may very well be 1 million is incorrect and that the discrepancy is not as significant as we thought at the time, but the information that we revealed to the public at the press conference was that we had discovered this and have a big hole here, and while we do not know why there is a big hole, we are not happy with it and we are taking our figures-----

I ask these questions because I have read the two interim reports cover-to-cover several times and, in my view, they understate the case in some instances. They reference errors, inconsistences and so on, and they look at systems failures, data gathering and such. There is very little reference to the failure of management or oversight. Somebody is responsible for making sure that something as serious as a mandatory alcohol-testing initiative is done right. Somebody has to be held accountable for that. Mr. Finn and the Commissioner will be aware that if it is the case that the inconsistences are as great as has been reported, that has huge implications with regard to policy. As they know, policy is set based on data given to the Government and to the Department. If the data is massively incorrect, it has serious implications for policy responses. I am trying to understand why very little attention is given in any of the interim reports that I have read to management culpability or examination of management - including Mr. Finn's predecessors.

Mr. Michael Finn

That includes myself. I am here at the helm now.

Specifically Mr. Finn's predecessors.

Mr. Michael Finn

It is my responsibility now. I have to make sure that we call in our regional traffic superintendents and look at and examine the figures. I now have two analysts working for me full-time in the traffic bureau who can give us the type of information that we need going forward. Managers-----

Is it possible that there were management failures?

Mr. Michael Finn

It might be unfair to Mr. Michael O'Sullivan for me to judge, but I have no doubt that there was a serious-----

Is it possible that there were management failures, Commissioner?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We have to wait until the conclusion of Mr. Michael O'Sullivan's report.

I understand that, but my question is whether it is possible.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The Deputy asked a question about governance. There are management responsibilities here. When this matter came to light, we brought together all of the assistant commissioners, chief superintendents and superintendents from all over the country to emphasise and re-emphasise to them their responsibility and accountability on these matters. That has been made very clear.

What I see when I read the two interim reports is a pattern that we had with the Garda training college as well, where there is much emphasis on managing the problem. That has to be done, because Mr. Finn is right that, if there is a problem, it has to be corrected. I do not see the same level of urgency or attention being given to management failures, and people being held to account for what happened. It does not scream from the pages from what I have seen and that concerns me. What level of scrutiny, examination and investigation is there ongoing with regard to potential management failures? Things do not always happen by accident. It may well be an accident but I would surmise that, in this case, it is possibly not. If it was not an accident, somebody is responsible for the system failure and people have to be held to account. Is that part of that ongoing work?

Deputy Alan Kelly is next.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes. One thing that we welcome is that the Policing Authority has commissioned a completely independent body to complete the review and the work that Mr. Michael O'Sullivan has commenced. We welcome that, and I am absolutely sure and confident that it will be an absolutely complete review, and whatever the findings are from that will be fully implemented by An Garda Síochána.

I spoke earlier about consultancy and Accenture. Did any major supplier to the Garda sponsor the recent chiefs of police conference held in Dublin?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The chiefs of police conference was hosted by An Garda Síochána but was held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. We would have to check, but Accenture would be partners of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

So Accenture sponsored the conference?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

I cannot say that Accenture sponsored it. We would have to check with the association.

Will Ms O'Sullivan come back with the value of what Accenture contributed and the breakdown of that?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Yes.

When it comes to the telephone liaison unit how much funding goes into it, what does it do, and how many staff does it have? Has that changed in recent times?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

If I may clarify my previous answer, my colleague was telling me that if the International Association of Chiefs of Police had any dealings with Accenture, it was independent of us and not related to us. It is a third party and we would have to see if there are any issues there.

Surely, given that it was in Ireland, the association would have worked with the Garda? Ms O'Sullivan can come back to us about it.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We were just hosting the conference. I do not want to give a commitment on the behalf of another agency.

Fine. Ms O'Sullivan can try her best.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The association does not belong in this jurisdiction either, so we should be mindful of that.

I said that Ms O'Sullivan can try her best.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The Deputy is speaking about the telephone liaison unit. It is part of the security and intelligence branch of An Garda Síochána.

How many people are in the unit? Has the volume of people in the unit changed in recent times? What is the budget for the unit? There is an overspend here and I want to get to the bottom of it.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Will the Deputy refer us to the page where the overspend is mentioned?

There is an overspend of €1.2 million on communications in total. I understand that most of it is nothing to do with this, but I want to know if there have been any changes with regard to how this unit operates in the last number of years. Have there been changes in the volume of staff, and will Ms O'Sullivan - not here, but through her conduit, Mr. Joseph Nugent - give us a breakdown of it? I do not want to know names, just the structure of the unit and how it operates.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Maybe I could take direction on that. If I understand correctly, the overspend relates to communications. The telephone liaison unit is completely separate if we are talking about the same thing.

We did not know that.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The telephone liaison unit is part of the security and intelligence infrastructure. It is overseen by a judge of the High Court who reports annually to the Oireachtas.

So it is not part of the Garda's spend at all?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It is part of our spend but it is governed under national security.

My three questions, which Ms O'Sullivan can come back to me on, are these. One is whether the spend on the unit has changed, the second is what the structure of the unit is, and if it has changed in the last years, and the third - which is very important - is if any protocols for how that unit operates have changed in the last number of years.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The governance of the national security infrastructure is overseen by a judge of the High Court, particularly with regard to what the TLU comprises. I do not believe there is anything specific in the vote relating to the TLU, because it is not separately ring-fenced in the vote. It is part of our national security infrastructure, and it is overseen by a judge of the High Court who reports annually to the Oireachtas.

I understand that. I just want to know the structure of it, if the structure has been changed, the volume of people in it and, in whatever best way Ms O'Sullivan can inform us, the volume of the spend on it.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We do not designate the spend on it because those in it are employees of An Garda Síochána. We can possibly do a headcount.

A head count, structure and how the process has changed would suffice.

I have a question on the Charleton liaison committee. I am not going anywhere near the tribunal of inquiry before the Chairman becomes concerned. The Charleton liaison committee was set up. Who was in this, who was hired, when were they hired and why were they hired? What is the purpose of it?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

As with all tribunals of inquiry, while I am conscious that the tribunal of inquiry into protected disclosures is currently sitting-----

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

-----an office is appointed to liaise with the tribunal.

In his establishment, Mr. Justice Charlton set out an ambitious timeframe. In order to comply and to be in a position to fully support the tribunal on behalf of An Garda Síochána, which we are continuing to do, we had two-----

To save time, could the Commissioner supply a structure of who is there, the contracts they are on, the date their contracts are from and the dates on which they were signed off on by the Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform? I presume that liaison committee is there for anybody in An Garda Síochána who is-----

Mr. Joseph Nugent

It is for liaison directly through the organisation and the-----

In respect of the people who were hired, was a legal person hired?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No.

So no solicitor was hired as part of this?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

No solicitor was hired. We did not hire-----

No legal person was hired to be part of this unit?

Mr. Joseph Nugent

We did not hire a legal person. We would use the assistance of-----

Mr. Joseph Nugent

To be clear because it is important, a solicitor provided by the Office of the Chief State Solicitor is involved but the solicitor is not-----

But An Garda Síochána does not have any separate legal-----

Mr. Joseph Nugent

We have not engaged in separate-----

In respect of the people who were actually hired as part of this unit, I presume it was open to public competition.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

It was discussed with the Department of Justice and Equality at the time.

I know but I am asking a specific question. Was it open to public competition?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Specific skills were identified as being required.

It related to the procurement process.

Was this open to public competition?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

No.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

It was a time band and involved specific skills that were required.

How were these people chosen?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We can send a note to the Chairman in the interests of time.

No, I do not want a note on this. I want to know here and now how those people were chosen.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

They were chosen based on their knowledge and understanding of the processes and their previous engagement with some of the processes.

Who chose them? Who interviewed them?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We can provide the Chairman with a note on it as I do not have the details.

I want an answer here and now. Who interviewed the people who were in the Charlton tribunal liaison committee that was not under public procurement?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We can provide a note on the process and the costs if that is suitable.

If information is available to the Commissioner or she knows the answer, she should answer the question now.

There are two answers here. Either the Commissioner does not know, which would be absolutely extraordinary, or she is not willing to provide the information.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

We can provide the information. I am not sure if anybody interviewed these people. I am not aware so we would have to inquire.

How could they? This is very important. We have a group that was set up for all gardaí who were involved in the Charlton tribunal. We are not talking about Charlton because this is ultimately a cost to the State. This group was set up. People were put into this unit. There was no public procurement of them and we are saying here that we do not even know if they were interviewed for the job. The Commissioner said earlier on that they had to have the appropriate skills so how could they have the appropriate skills if they were not interviewed? Surely if they were interviewed, the Commissioner would know who interviewed them.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

Mr. Nugent is telling me that we do not believe they were interviewed. We can provide the names of the individuals and their skillset. The Deputy asked a question that I would like to answer.

That is nice.

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

The purpose of the tribunal co-ordination office is to fully assist the disclosures tribunal to meet the timeline set out by Mr. Justice Charlton and to be in a position to facilitate the co-ordination from right across the organisation and to provide an interface and conduit with the tribunal. I will be honest with the committee. The fact is that we have been criticised previously about delays in facilitating and supporting commissions of investigation, etc., and in the timeframe set out by the disclosures tribunal, it was far more cost-effective to hire retired individuals than it would be for-----

I accept that but I just want to clarify the information I want. First, I want to know who these individuals are. I want to know why the process by which they were chosen was not done through public procurement; if they were interviewed, who interviewed them; and, the costs associated with it. I also want to know about the decision making by the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Justice and Equality and the dates and times.

The Deputy has got that now.

The witnesses spoke about Stepaside Garda Station and the report. Deputy McDonald asked them to provide us with the interim report up to now. The witnesses spoke about the CSO and making a decision about where stations will be opened and deployment of staff. I looked at the census from 1996 to 2006 to see where the big changes occurred. Dublin city grew by 13%, Dún Laoghaire grew by 13%, south Dublin grew by 22%, Fingal by 43%, Meath by 44% and Kildare by 39%. Kildare, Meath and Fingal make up the area that has seen huge growth. There has not been a parallel increase. I know that is not the only measurement because An Garda Síochána looks at crime statistics and a range of other things. On a per capita basis, the lowest rate of gardaí to population is found in Kildare followed by Meath and places like Wexford. If there are to be deployment and transfers, will they be on the basis of matching the population growth and crime statistics? What metrics will An Garda Síochána use? It has never been the case that this has played a whole part in this up to now. For the past ten or 12 years, I have engaged with various assistant commissioners about the deployment of resources because they have never matched population growth. It is part of the reason Deputy Cassells is so frustrated because the same pattern occurs in areas with very high growth. I would have thought that the full opening of Celbridge Garda Station, which opens on a part-time basis, would have come in ahead of Stepaside Garda Station given the population increase.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

We are more than happy to share information on the distribution of Garda trainees over the past three years with the committee. What the committee will see from that is that the largest deployment of trainees has been into the types of areas about which the Deputy spoke.

From a low base.

Mr. Joseph Nugent

I accept that. My point is that this is part of a process. We are not in a position to take in all 15,000 gardaí overnight so we are wrapping up but the figures will show that the largest distribution of new trainees has been in the sort of areas described by the Deputy, including Louth. I will happily share this information with the committee so members can see where people have been deployed. That only relates to new trainees.

The retirements are a counter balance so you need to know-----

Mr. Joseph Nugent

I understand that.

We anticipated that we would have the report relating to breath tests. We were told that it would be the end of June and it was then pushed forward to July. At the bottom of the interim report, it stated that it was anticipated that the report would be completed by 31 July assuming work could continue without interruption, which was a matter outside the control of those responsible for the report, all of whom had to carry a heavy caseload. Will sufficient time be available for the people involved in this to complete the report within that timeframe?

Ms Nóirín O'Sullivan

There is time. I am assured by the assistant commissioner, who is completing it, that he will complete it. Some of the delays related to the archaic systems and manual systems that need to be searched. I am assured by the assistant commissioner that he will be in a position to provide his final report by the end of July. Last Monday, the assistant commissioner and I met with the company that has been procured by the Policing Authority and we have assured it of our full assistance. We are appointing liaison officers to assist the company with its work so the work will continue at a pace.

At this stage, we have concluded our questions. On behalf of the committee, I thank our witnesses from An Garda Síochána for participating in the meeting and the materials they have supplied to the committee. I want to get agreement that we dispose of Vote 20 subject to the material we requested to be sent to us in written form. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The witnesses withdrew.
Sitting suspended at 12.39 p.m. and resumed at 12.40 p.m.