Fourth arrest made in Garda’s education board corruption investigation

Man being questioned by detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau

Gardai investigating alleged corrupt practices at the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (ETB) have arrested a man.

The suspect was arrested on Thursday morning in Co Kildare and was still being questioned on Thursday evening by detectives from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

Another man, in his 40s, was arrested the week before last and two others were detained for questioning earlier this year; a man in his 50s in August, and a woman in her 30s in September.

The three suspects detained in recent months were all questioned for a period before being released without charge while the criminal investigation has continued.


The latest person arrested was being questioned on Thursday evening as part of Operation Lakefront by detectives attached to the anti-corruption unit, GNECB.

He was arrested as part of the wider investigation into alleged offences contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Acts.

Issues about the Kildare and Wicklow ETB were raised in a Department of Education investigation and a Comptroller and Auditor General report last year.

The audit found the ETB repeatedly broke public contract rules and indulged in “excessive” spending on five-star hotels.

Its then chief executive, Seán Ashe, also failed to declare ties to family members with interests in two companies that received contracts from the ETB, the audit found. The report was referred to the GNECB which commenced an investigation.

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy last year told a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee that concerns about Kildare and Wicklow ETB arose during a routine audit of the body’s 2015 financial accounts.

The concerns led the State auditor to prepare a supplementary report into the financial issues, a move that would be “very unusual”, he told the committee.

When concerning financial practices were brought to the chair and vice-chair of the ETB’s board, Mr McCarthy said they were both “surprised and shocked” to learn the information.

Mr McCarthy said in his opinion ETB boards were “heavily dependent” on the executives they were supposed to provide oversight to, and needed more “operational independence”.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times