Tánaiste and Enterprise, Trade & Employment Minister Mary Coughlan has asked the Comptroller and Auditor General to launch a special investigation into FÁS expenditure since 2000.
Let us be in no doubt. This investigation will be a complete waste of time, resources and money. The C & AG is a completely powerless organisation. It does not have any power to bring charges as a result of any wrongdoing discovered; it is empowered merely to offer an opinion – that’s it.
In its most recent investigation, into Bord gCon, the C&AG uncovered very serious corruption, fraud and incompetence, yet, bizarrely, concluded that
“In material respects the financial affairs of the company were properly run.”
No action whatsoever was taken by any government authority as a result of these very serious findings. It should be noted at this point that the C&AG was the auditor of Bord na gCon while many of these dodgy activities were going on.
The C&AG is also the official auditor of FÁS. So what are the chances that the organisation responsible for signing off on the finances of FÁS every year is going to make any serious criticisms of that organisation? Isn’t it more likely to conclude that ‘In material respects the financial affairs of FÁS were properly run’?
When completed, the C&AGs report on FÁS will be passed on to another completely powerless body – The Public Accounts Committee.
This group of useless politicians will discuss the matter once in public and once in private and that folks will be the end of the matter. It doesn’t matter how much corruption, fraud or incompetence is uncovered – nothing will be done.
In my opinion it is no accident that the C&AG is powerless, it is no accident that the PAC is powerless and it is no accident that Minister Coughlin has decided to hand over this very serious matter to these powerless agencies.
If Ireland was a properly functioning and accountable democracy the police would be ripping through the files at FAS, civil servants would be answering questions under police caution and politicians would be wondering how their heads fell off.
Depressingly, Ireland is not a properly functioning democracy, there will be no police action, no political heads will roll and corruption and incompetence will continue at all levels of Irish society.