Training board responds to 30 issues in spending probe

County Cork Education and Training Board has said it and the Department of Education have delivered detailed responses to more than 30 issues raised in a long-running, public spending investigation.

Training board responds to 30 issues in spending probe

The Comptroller and Auditor General circulated a confidential draft report to the training board in April and follow-up information and replies were sent by the May 31 deadline.

However, the training board’s chief executive, Ted Owens, told its monthly meeting he had hoped the final report would be public before now but that it will take time to complete.

He said he will deal with the issues at the Public Accounts Committee in due course.

The delays in bringing the report into the public domain were criticised by former town councillor Humphrey Deegan, whose resignation as chair of County Cork VEC’s audit committee helped bring many issues to light.

He said the old VEC had blackguarded the internal auditor who highlighted problems and he wanted the affair brought to a conclusion.

Mr Deegan said he would not be a member of the next education and training board but wanted it noted that the former management had refused to accept what was given to them by the auditor.

Earlier at yesterday’s meeting, members voted to publish the details of their travel expenses online for the first time.

Councillor Chris O’Leary proposed the motion after it emerged that the secretary general of the Department of Education had requested expenses information back to 2009 to forward to the Public Accounts Committee.

The move to table the motion was done against the protests of former county mayor Noel O’Connor, who said the same proposal had been voted down in February.

The meeting was the last of the combined city and county VECs before it is reconstituted following the local elections.

Mr Owens asked members to give him permission to finalise an urgent negotiation to break two leases it holds for the former county headquarters at Yeats House, Ballincollig.

Mr Owens said an unusual circumstance had arisen whereby a multinational company was offering to take over the lease with limited financial consequences for the training board.

He said this was acceptable to the landlord, a company in the O’Flynn Group, but the prospective new tenant needed an answer quickly.

Members voted to sanction his request to conclude negotiations if they were financially appropriate for the training board.

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