PAC to probe Central Bank on spouses' trips

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to investigate the Central Bank after the agency admitted it had paid for trips of the spouses of dozens of staff members.

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to investigate the Central Bank after the agency admitted it had paid for trips of the spouses of dozens of staff members.

Fine Gael is also demanding answers after the bank refused to disclose the cost of the trips involved over a two-year period.

A report from the Comptroller and Auditor General had highlighted the travel trips of spouses in one agency.

After pressure mounted from journalists, the Central Bank last night admitted it was the agency involved.

The statement confirmed 62 non-staff trips in the years 2007 and 2008.

Some 52 of these trips related to spouses attending 49 meetings.

PAC chairman Deputy Bernard Allen of Fine Gael said the issue will have to be pursued.

He said the Central Bank should have made the disclosure before now and must explain how it could spend this money at a time it was telling people to tighten belts.

Meanwhile the Comptroller and Auditor General John Buckley has apologised for misleading politicians and journalists, saying a breakdown in communication led to the mistake.

"The original information was derived from a survey response, which we indicated in the report at Footnote 19, was not subject to independent audit check.

"Because the survey response referred to a programme - in the singular - it was wrongly interpreted as a single event.

"I regret the fact that this happened and that policiticians and the press, who relied on the content of the report, were misled."

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