Yet another Government agency has had the lid lifted on its activities and the stench is overwhelming.
FAS, the national training and employment authority is under investigation by the Gardai. As usual in Ireland the alleged corruption wasn’t uncovered by any state regularity agency but came about when Mary Harney received an anonymous letter way back in 2004.
Fine Gael TD, Leo Varadkar, one of the very few effective politicians in Ireland, has been asking questions about what’s been going on in FAS (Morning Ireland, 6th report).
When he questioned Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, he was dismissed with the comment that everything had been sorted out and that FAS had changed its procedures.
The Gardai are conducting a criminal investigation into allegations that a company hired by FAS defrauded the agency of significant amounts of money but the amazing aspect of the scandal is the activities that are not being investigated by the police. According to Varadkar these include.
Huge amounts of money spent without obtaining the necessary authority from the board of FAS. (Echoes of the Bord na gCon scandal here).
An advertisement contract given to a local newspaper, possibly in a pub, where it is alleged match tickets were exchanged for the contract.
€1.7 million spent on duplicating a website that already existed.
An exhibition contract of €250,000 given to somebody at double the going rate.
A general disregard for normal procurement procedures within the organisation.
Let me repeat – These are the activities not being investigated by the police.
Varadkar wants to know what’s being done about this situation, who has been sanctioned and what’s going to change.
May Zeus bless his innocent head if he thinks he’s going to actually get answers never mind action.