Fas directors are ‘scapegoats’
Fas directors are ‘scapegoats’

A prosecution is being prepared into the “worthless” expenditures of State training agency Fas as questions are being asked about a seven figure payment made by the Dublin government to its former director general last year.

There have been two separate Garda police investigations carried out into expenditure at Fas, which allegedly operated as a Fianna Fail slush-fund.

One investigation, which relates to the expenditure exposed by a recent audit, has now been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It emerged today that a further million Euro “parachute payment” was agreed for former Fas director general Rody Molloy after he threatened a potentially embarrassing legal action over his pension.

Molloy was forced to resign late last year when it emerged that he had authorised six figure Florida vacations for high level government figures under the guise of a science exchange program.

Meanwhile, the besieged Tanaiste Mary Coughlan brought a new Bill before the Cabinet yesterday to give her the power to finally dissolve the 17-member Fas board and appoint a new board of just 11 members.

She had been severely criticised in recent weeks by Opposition parties who claim she took a “hands-off” approach to Fas. At one point she said she would accept resignations from board members, but only if they were offered.

Today, Ms Coughlan claimed the payment she authorised to Molloy and his speedy departure was the best option “on the basis that these matters were destroying an organisation whose role on behalf of the people who are unemployed is paramount”.

The scandal became murkier this week when one director said overspending and breaches of procedure had been “deliberately” kept from the board by unnamed executives.

Other Fas directors, who are facing potential prosecution, also claimed that there was “a culture of non-disclosure” and the board was “not told the full facts”.

“We now have proof that what was going on was being hidden from us,” one director said, without elaboration. Another said they were being made “scapegoats”.

Niall Saul, an employers’ representative on the Fas board, blamed those at “executive level”.

He also said that when the board was appointed, it was charged with implementing the Government decision that the headquarters of Fas should be decentralised to Birr, County Offaly.

“We went through that, at a huge cost, and it has turned out to be a big waste. The cost was phenomenal, bigger than anything in the [auditors] reports, yet no-one is being held to account for that.”

Fas had a budget of more than one billion Euro last year.

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