€250k McGuinness office ‘kit out’ in line with public service guidelines

The €250,000 kit-out of a minister’s office, including a lavish bathroom, was in line with public service guidelines and done without ministerial approval, the Oireachtas Public Accounts committee heard.

The furnishing of the office for former junior Enterprise Minister John McGuinness was described as more akin to one on Wall Street than Kildare Street, the committee heard.

Office of Public Works chairwoman Clare McGrath said the office for the then-minister was furnished in 2007 in line with executive standards.

Mr McGuinness, now head of the Public Accounts Committee, said yesterday that it had not been his job to sign off on the furnishing plans. The office kit-out included “very lavish and comfortable bathroom facility”, TD Gerald Nash said.

The works were done for the cost of a two-or three-bed house in Drogheda — “It’s really more akin to Wall Street than Kildare Street to be honest.”

Ms McGrath told the committee that all OPW janitorial supplies were sourced from one supplier, Boylans, at a cost of just over €2m in 2012.

She said that all Government departments received the same quality toilet paper. This included the likes of ‘Kittensoft, Inversoft and Andrex’ as brands that they used, she said.

This was standard for all offices, and not just for the office bathroom of Mr McGuinness at the time.

Mr Nash added: “For an extra few euro we may have got the stairs and Andrex puppy as well.”

Ms McGrath said the refurbishment of Mr McGuinness’s office cost €206,000 before Vat. When the tax is added, this would bring the bill to around €250,000.

Mr McGuinness told fellow committee members: “The OPW have responded and informed me that through written correspondence, phone calls, emails, that I did not have anything to do with this project.

“The brief was prepared in line with civil service norms, it wasn’t concocted out of the blue. The minutes [records] available show no involvement by me whatsoever. It was not my job to sign off on those plans.”

The committee also heard that €181,000 was spent on refurbishing an office for Bertie Ahern after he stood down as Taoiseach.


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