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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Houses of the Oireachtas

Head of garda HR steps down from ethics committee amid internal row

It emerged recently that one of Barrett’s colleagues questioned in a letter to the Commissioner whether he had breached the Official Secrets Act.

THE HEAD OF human resources at An Garda Síochána has stepped down from a committee tasked with the rollout of the force’s new code of ethics.

John Barrett has been embroiled in an internal – but now very public – row with his garda managers and other top civil servants in the organisation. The dispute emerged during Public Accounts Committee sessions in discussions about irregularities in the finances of the Garda College in Templemore.

In the first of these sessions, Barrett contradicted Garda Commission Nóirín O’Sullivan about a meeting they had in relation to these issues. She claimed it was “brief” – he told the committee it actually lasted two hours and presented them with detailed notes he took during it.

More recently, it emerged the force’s executive director of finance, Michael Culhane, wrote a letter to the Commissioner in which he questioned whether Barrett might be in breach of the Official Secrets Act in posting documents relating to Templemore’s finances to himself. Barrett told the PAC last month that he tried three times himself and four times through his solicitor to gain access to internal documents relating to him.

When eventually released to him under the Freedom of Information Act, he said 85% was redacted. This letter about him was, however, handed over to the PAC in its entirety and this is how Barrett first learned of it.

“I discovered the existence of that letter almost a year to the day after it had been written. The interesting inversion of trust that was presented to the committee appals me. We requested, legitimately, a letter written about me that I had no knowledge of, which alleges a potential criminal offence,” he told the PAC.

Stepping down

Now, the Policing Authority has confirmed Barrett has stepped down from his role in relation to the rollout of the force’s new code of ethics, which was drawn up by the authority.

The Irish Examiner first reported that following this latest revelation about allegations of potential criminality on his part, Barrett felt unable to continue as a representative on the Code of Ethics Committee.

Barrett was one of the designated garda representatives who has worked with this committee since early last year. In a statement, the Policing Authority said Barrett informed the committee he would be stepping down at its most recent meeting on 8 June.

“The committee expressed its appreciation to Mr Barrett for the work he had done in relation to the code of ethics project to date,” it added.

Tomorrow morning, top ranking gardaí and civil servants will field further questions from the PAC about the garda college’s finances. The Garda Commissioner will appear before the committee later this month.

Read: Five tax numbers – but no offshore accounts: What we know now about Templemore’s finances>

Read: ‘It’s like we’re in an episode of Father Ted’: Top civil servants contradict each other when questioned>

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