Fás annual expenses claims fell to €2.5m after controversy

 

CLAIMS FOR expenses dropped by more than half to €2.5 million at the State training agency Fás in the first year after the controversy about spending controls there.

Figures released recently show that whereas the annual total in expense claims was between €5 million and €5.7 million in the years from 2005 to 2008, total expense claims dropped to €2.5 million in 2009.

A controversy over spending controls at Fás erupted in late 2008 and culminated in the resignation of the then director general Rody Molloy on November 26th, 2008.

Figures for all expenses claims made during the period 2005 to 2009 were released under the Freedom of Information Act recently to the website thestory.ie, where they are now available.

A spokesman for the authority confirmed the details had been released and said new spending controls and reduced expense rates were introduced by the authority in the wake of Mr Molloy’s departure.

The figures released are for all expenses claimed over the period and include names, amounts and reasons for each claim. The data is presented on spreadsheets on the website.

The serving president of the GAA, Christy Cooney, who is on leave from the authority since April of last year, was paid expenses averaging more than €20,000 per annum during his last years working with Fás, the figures show.

The figure is substantially higher than the equivalent figure for Mr Molloy, who tended to make claims for annual amounts ranging between €1,000 and €3,000.

Mr Cooney is an assistant director at Fás and is still paid by the authority. The authority is reimbursed for this by the GAA.

An assistant director at Fás is paid between €127,588 and €145,952, depending on length of service.

The expenses data shows Mr Cooney made an average of 200 expenses claims each year in the 2005 to 2008 period, with the vast majority of the claims to do with travel, meals and accommodation.

The spokesman for Fás said that in 2005 and 2006, Mr Cooney was assistant director general community services, and between 2007 and 2008 he was assistant director general human resources / organisational development.

“Both posts involved a nationwide brief necessitating substantial regular travel to all Fás locations in the discharge of his duties, for which he received travel and subsistence expenses in accordance with Department of Finance regulations.”