Acting Garda Commissioner Dónal Ó Cualáin is to be asked to come before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee to explain the criteria used to decide to re-open Garda stations.

Members of the PAC have expressed anger that the gardaí have not yet supplied the criteria, which was requested some months ago. 

"There has to be criteria for making this decision otherwise it was a political decision made for the benefit of somebody at the Cabinet table," said Labour TD Alan Kelly.

PAC chairperson Sean Fleming said the committee received a letter from An Garda Síochána on 4 August in relation to the interim report regarding the re-opening of Garda stations.

The note says that a final report will be submitted to the Minister for Justice and suggested that it would be appropriate for the committee to make inquiries to the department.

On 13 July the now Acting Garda Commissioner promised to provide a report to the committee.

Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald said she raised this issue with Mr Ó Cualáin back in July and on that occasion there was no problem in providing the committee with the report.

"Just to be clear. We are looking for the data, for the fact and figures, the rationale that was applied as to which Garda Stations should be re-opened. I think we are entitled to that and I see absolutely no reason why they should be fudging or delaying on this.

"What criteria were applied? How was the decision arrived at to recommend Stepaside Garda Station as against other garda stations across the State?

"I don't understand how there was no problem in July, when they said that we could have that information and then in August they respond saying that no we can't have it?"

She said that it is not good that that the gardaí are continuing "with their policy of evasion or duck and diving as regards their interaction with the Public Accounts Committee. Clearly some criteria were applied to arrive at these decisions and we want to see them."

She suggested writing back to Mr Ó Cualáin and remind him of his commitment in July to provide criteria relating to certain Garda stations.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said, "There must have been some rationale for opening decision. If there wasn't then it was a political decision to open a particular Garda Station. If there was a rationale for that station, let's see it." 

At that point, Mr Kelly claimed, "Let's be quite frank about this. We all smell a rat."

He said that Mr Ó Cualáin, said there would be no problem providing the information.

"He is now the most senior Garda in this country and we all know there has to be criteria for this."

He accused the gardaí of avoiding the issue about which they were asked, saying "there has to be criteria for making this decision, otherwise it was a political decision for the benefit of a certain individual who sits at the Cabinet table."

Ms McDonald suggested the PAC write to Mr Ó Cualáin and invite him to appear before them and bring with him an account of the methodology applied in making this decision and that we wish to have an exchange with him on the matter.

After some discussion, Mr Fleming said he would write to the acting commissioner asking for a copy of the report prepared by An Garda Síochána, not what is in the Department of Justice or going to Cabinet, by Friday evening.

The committee will also request for the Acting Commissioner to attend the PAC next Thursday.