Lies, secrecy and arrogance is still the prevailing attitude

The latest report by the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) into FÁS reveals some very questionable activities by its staff.

€200,000 on flights for people not working for the agency. Apparently, this gravy train, funded by the taxpayer, included journalists, politicians, spouses and friends.

There was also questionable expenditure on golfing events, sporting events and concerts, the majority approved by the incompetent, disgraced but well compensated Mr. Molloy.

Money was spent without authority, the FÁS board was effectively lied to and credit cards were thrown around like drunken sailors in a brothel.

But the most shocking and disgusting aspect of this scandal is the arrogance of the civil servants involved including the C&AG himself.

For example, it is reported that up to six top executives at FÁS were paid bigger bonuses than they were entitled to in 2008. These bonuses were approved by the incompetent Mr. Molloy and sanctioned by the Departments of Enterprise and Finance.

Incredibly, the executives have not been asked to pay back the money which FÁS says was paid in error.

If this was a social welfare ‘error’ the applicant would instantly find himself the subject of an investigation and the money would be deducted from his income forthwith.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Enterprise declined to comment. The incompetent Mr. Molloy also declined to comment.

These people are effectively telling the ripped off taxpayer – take a hike, we don’t have to account for how we spend your money.

Despite constant praise from the media the office of the C&AG also has questions to answer.

Former acting chairman of FÁS, Mr. Niall Saul, was told by Mr. Buckley that controls at FÁS were excellent, that there were no serious problems.

Mr. Saul rightly concluded that if the C&AG was a private company it would be lucky not to be fired.

This shouldn’t surprise ripped off taxpayers when we remember the infamous Bord na gCon investigation carried out by the C & AGs office.

Despite findings of at least one case of serious fraud and many other questionable activities the C&AG, who, bizarrely, is also the auditor of Bord na gCon, concluded that

in general the funds of Bord na gCon were properly applied.

As I write another scandal has broken involving the C&AG and the Central Bank. The media is focusing on an error made by the C&AG when he reported that 52 spouses of staff attended meetings on a single trip when in fact the meetings involved several trips.

The real scandal here was the refusal by the C&AG to disclose what organisation was responsible for this alleged abuse of taxpayer’s money.

Once again, Irish citizens had to rely on the media, RTE on this occasion, to provide them with information that should be immediately forthcoming from state agencies.

Just who does Mr. Buckley think he is in refusing this information to Irish citizens? What were his motives in putting the interests of Central Bank staff above the interests of the people he is allegedly representing?

And what does this affair tell us about the new and much praised Central Bank governor, Patrick Honohan?

On the first occasion he is asked to account for his office he tells us to take a hike. Even now he is refusing to disclose who went on the trips or how much they cost. Irish taxpayer’s have a right to know this information.

And what does all this say about the so called reform of the political and financial sectors? Well, it’s obvious;

There is no reform, secrecy is still the name of the game, ripping off the taxpayer is still rampant, lies, half truths and dissembling is still the favoured response and arrogance is still the predominant attitude.

The political, administrative and financial system that has run this country into the ground is beyond reform.

Nothing will change until the Irish people wake up and throw these people and their corrupt system out of office and out of power.

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Central Bank
Comptroller & Auditor General