Claims of school bus tender corruption should be reported to Garda, say Ministers
Garda only body with “competence to investigate allegations of a crime of this nature”
Leo Varadkar: among Ministers to issue a statement in response to a Sunday newspaper story on the subject of school transport tenders. Photograph: Frank Miller
Any evidence of alleged corruption in school transport tenders operated by Bus Éireann should be immediately reported to the Garda, three Ministers said in a joint statement yesterday, following a Sunday newspaper story.
The Ministers have also asked Bus Éireann to provide a full report on the matter and invited a former contractor quoted in the story to send any evidence to the relevant Government departments.
The statement on behalf of Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar; Minister of State for Commuter and Public Transport Alan Kelly; and Minister of State for Training and Skills with the Department of Education Ciarán Cannon, followed an article in the Irish Mail on Sunday .
The Ministers said “corruption is a criminal offence”, adding they viewed any such allegations extremely seriously.
Investigation of allegations
“An Garda Síochána is the only body with the competence to investigate allegations of a crime of this nature,” the statement said.
The newspaper report included extracts of a transcript from what it said was a secret recording between a whistleblower and a Bus Éireann official that appeared to contradict the findings of an internal inquiry conducted by the company, a report on which was furnished to the Oireachtas Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) earlier this year.
Company to respond
PAC chairman John McGuinness said he received a message from Bus Éireann yesterday in which the company said it would be responding to issues raised in the article and denying it had misled the PAC.
A spokeswoman for Bus Éireann said the company had carried out a “thorough investigation” into the complaints referred to in the article and that the investigation team had found no basis for instigating any disciplinary proceedings against any employee, or for referring any aspect to An Garda Síochána.
She said the company was studying the recording received by it on Saturday and would not be in a position to comment further until this process was complete.
She said the company was engaging with the Department of Transport, the Department of Education and the Public Accounts Committee.
Bus Éireann operates the school bus service on behalf of the Department of Education.