Garda finance director claimed whistle-blower had committed crime
The Garda’s executive director of finance wrote to Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan claiming the whistle-blower who flagged grave concerns about the Templemore ‘slush fund’ could be guilty of a criminal offence.
In an extraordinary letter to Ms O’Sullivan, Michael Culhane urged that she launch an investigation into head of human resources John Barrett.
The letter, which casts further light on the deep divisions surrounding the troubled Garda College, suggested that Mr Barrett intentionally wanted to damage An Garda Síochána.
As the full extent of the scandal was becoming apparent, Mr Culhane wrote: “Is JB (John Barrett) unwittingly guilty of a criminal offence under the Official Secrets Act?”
Mr Culhane was motivated to write the letter after being told Mr Barrett allegedly obtained documents relevant to Templemore, and sent them to himself by registered post.
“The Commissioner may wish to initiate a formal investigation of JB’s activities under the Official Secrets Act as his intent may appear to be to cause damage to An Garda Síochána either through unauthorised disclosure or leaks to the press,” Mr Culhane added.
Mr Culhane joined the force in 2000 and was one of the first members of the management team to be notified of concerns surrounding Templemore.
Mr Barrett, along with the force’s head of audit Niall Kelly, has previously sought that the concerns be formally notified to the Justice Minister under what is known as a Section 41 report.
In the letter, obtained by the Irish Independent, Mr Culhane describes the decision to write to Ms O’Sullivan in this regard as an “unusual step”.
But he adds: “I am concerned that you should be aware of the very serious statements made by Mr Barrett and the implied threat of some unauthorised action on his part which will damage An Garda Síochána.
“I am also particularly concerned that Mr Barrett is attempting to undermine my professional reputation and my record of achievement…”
Last night, well-placed sources told the Irish Independent that Mr Barrett previously sought disclosure of the letter from Garda management but that this was denied.
The letter was written in August 2015 but has only just come to light as part of an explosive dossier forwarded to the PAC. Mr Barrett and Mr Culhane are expected to appear in front of the PAC next week, alongside Mr Kelly and the head of legal affairs Ken Ruane.
The Irish Independent yesterday reported details of another explosive letter between Mr Culhane and Mr Kelly.
In that letter, sent in February, Mr Culhane claimed that Mr Kelly had reportedly warned that the Templemore issues would result in people being “led away in handcuffs”.
Mr Culhane also claimed that Mr Kelly compared Templemore to the charity Console and said he believed there may have been offshore accounts.
It is further alleged that Mr Kelly demanded access to emails from within Mr Culhane’s office and when this was refused, an altercation took place. Mr Kelly did not wish to comment when contacted this week. Mr Barrett did not respond when contacted.
A Garda spokesman said: “An Garda Síochána is not commenting on any matters that may be subject to examination by the PAC in relation to financial matters at the Garda College.”