Oireachtas watchdog chief in €250k office row

The head of the Oireachtas spending watchdog committee faces questions about his role in approving a €250,000 kitting-out of his office when he was a junior minister.

John McGuinness TD has said he had no part in the costs and was not aware of the significant price of refurbishing his ministerial room on Kildare St. The Fianna Fáil TD was junior minister at the Department of Enterprise in 2007 at the time the work was done.

There were calls for Mr McGuinness, who is now head of the Public Accounts Committee, to answer questions about the spend.

Fine Gael TD Damien English said questions needed to be answered. He claimed Mr McGuinness was either not telling the full story or had been grossly irresponsible.

The cost of the work also included €50,000 going towards fitting out a shower room in the office of a senior civil servant in Mr McGuinness’s department.

The Costs also included €3,340 spent on two black leather chairs and a round table, as well as purchases of “tub chairs”, which cost €1,111 each before Vat.

A “cherry desk” cost €4,850, while another €22,203 was forked out for 10 chairs with “hide upholstery”.

Mr McGuinness has said he had no part in deciding on the costs and was not aware of them when he was a minister. However, an email from the minister’s secretary at the time claimed he was “satisfied with the revised plans”.

The Office of Public Works, which oversaw the contract, yesterday said it had no information available about the office works. Mr McGuinness also did not return calls.

Mr English, who is head of the Oireachtas committee on jobs, called on his fellow committee chairman to clarify his role in the €250,000 spend.

He asked what the content of the revised plans were which Mr McGuinness had allegedly approved, and why the then minister had not queried the cost of the works.


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