REVELATIONS on over spending and waste of money by the state training agency, Fás, indicated it was “a complete cesspit,” Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has said.
Mr Kenny went on to call for a full investigation and a referendum to give Dáil committees greater powers to investigate public spending.
“Fás was responsible for excellent work at local level in many parts of the country but the initial revelations would indicate that this was a complete cesspit and it must be sorted out,” he said.
Mr Kenny also hit out at the fact that elected politicians have no opportunity to properly question department spending and that they have to be content with a few questions, which are answered by “a bevy of public servants”.
If, he suggested, there was greater questioning and more competition between government departments for funds, there would not be the kind of massive overspending witnessed in the past few years.
Mr Kenny said that because the years of tribunals were over and Dáil committees did not have the power to make findings that called into question people’s reputations, a way would have to be found to properly investigate the Fás wastage and overspending.
“You cannot have a situation where taxpayers’ money is flung around for no effect. We need to study this report. The public accounts committee needs to get stuck into it. It will be dealt with.”
He added that a referendum was needed to give the Dáil powers to compel people to appear before investigating committees.
“Dáil committees should have an appropriate authority to safeguard taxpayers’ money,” Mr Kenny said, before revealing that he believed hearings should be broadcast on a public service channel and discussed and debated.
Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael’s employment spokesman, insisted “heads must roll” at board and senior executive level after the uncovering of shocking levels of bad practice and waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Accountability for this bad practice goes all the way to the top of the organisation,” he said.
“Yet no single member of the Fás board, or anyone at senior management level, has been held accountable.
“The only person to take any responsibility for these disgraceful practices is former director general Rody Molloy, who merely took early retirement and left with his full pension intact, along with a golden handshake.”
Labour’s Roisín Shortall said the findings in the report demanded swift and strong action from the Tánaiste.
“At a time when child benefit is under thereat, when hospitals have been forced to curtail their services and when school classes are getting bigger, profligacy on this level is simply unacceptable,” she said.
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