The background to this matter is by now well known. However, for ease of reference I will again set out the facts. A newspaper article – published on Sunday 11 February 2001 – alleged that members of the Garda Síochána and a civilian employee at Garda headquarters had participated in trips abroad paid for by a company which supplies tyres to the Garda Síochána.
On 13 February 2001, I advised the House that the Garda Commissioner had asked a chief superintendent to look at the allegations. I also advised the House that I was of the view that the matter warranted an external examination and that the Secretary General of my Department, in his capacity as accounting officer for the Garda Vote, had instructed the internal audit unit of the Department to examine the matter.
The matter subsequently became the subject of a criminal investigation and I was informed by the Garda authorities that the chief superintendent appointed by the Garda Commissioner submitted an investigation file to the Director of Public Prosecutions on 20 April 2001 on the matters alleged. I was also informed that on 3 August 2001 the DPP sought additional information and that a further file was submitted on 13 September 2001. The directions of the DPP are currently awaited.
The investigation being carried out by the internal audit unit in the Department is continuing. They have raised certain queries – that may be of a criminal nature – with the Garda authorities which relate to the ongoing criminal investigation. These queries are now the subject of a criminal investigation and, in respect of which, a file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions in due course.
I have also been informed by the Garda authorities that to date no charges have been brought against any member of the Garda Síochána or against any other persons in connection with this matter. No one is currently suspended – although I am informed by the Garda authorities that one member was suspended for a day while being interviewed as part of the investigation.
I understand the Comptroller and Auditor General is carrying out a value for money examination of the purchasing of tyres by the Garda Síochána and this is expected to be finalised soon. When I have received the report, I intend to lay copies before both Houses of the Oireachtas.