€3.6bn error 'unacceptable'

 

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has described as “unacceptable” the €3.6 billion accounting error that led to a 2.3 per cent increase in the Government’s general debt.

He told the Dáil today that “all safeguards will be investigated to ensure it is never repeated”.

But he rejected criticism by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald of the secretary general of the Department of Finance who she said “presided over that blunder”.

Ms McDonald asked on what basis the Tánaiste could defend the appointment of the official “to anything, let alone the European Court of Auditors, given this blunder”.

But Mr Gilmore criticised Ms McDonald for abusing the privilege of the House to make the allegation against a person who could not come into the Dáil to defend themselves. “and in particular on civil servants who are not permitted to engage in political or public debate”.

Ms McDonald said she had the greatest respect for the Civil Service but added: “I make no apology for calling to account very senior civil servants on

very big pay packages with very generous pension entitlements to give an account through the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach as the Heads of Government." Ms McDonald also highlighted the salaries of 14 employees of the National Treasury Management Agency, which were above €250,000.

Mr Gilmore said the proper place for officials to be questioned was at an Oireachtas committee.

He said the Minister for Finance made it clear “he is pursuing his own inquiries into the matter and intends to put in place the most robust system to ensure there is not a repeat of this kind of accounting error, which is unacceptable, in the future”.