Molloy's failure to appear before PAC 'regrettable'

 

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) Bernard Allen said it was “regrettable” that the former director general of the State training agency Fás Rody Molloy did not appear before it today.

Mr Molloy, who was due to appear to answer questions about spending at the authority’s corporate affairs division, resigned as director general on Tuesday.

He stepped down following controversy over some €643,000 in expenses paid to senior Fás executives, including himself, over a four-year period in the course of promoting a science programme in the US.

Mr Allen said today a person’s “loyalty to the public good” did not disappear after they left public service and he formally invited Mr Molloy to come before the committee next week.

“I find it incredible that people think they can just ride away into the sunset and leave the investigation into the expenditure of taxpayers money handicapped,” he said.

Assistant director general Christy Cooney told the committee the former director of the corporate affairs division, Greg Craig, had a budget of approx €50 million at his disposal in the period 2000-2004.

An internal audit report has discovered serious breaches of procurement rules in the division over the period.

Mr Craig was disciplined as a result of the audit report’s findings, but the committee has been told the details of this cannot be divulged for legal reasons.

Mr Craig has remained in his post and passed the first round of interviews for promotion to assistant director general level subsequent to the report.

Mr Cooney, who has responsibility for human resources, said he was one of three people on the interview panel for that first round of interviews. In the event, Mr Craig did not eventually get the job.

The committee heard that new issues arising from a new internal audit inquiry covering the 2006-2007 period have raised fresh concerns.

Mr Craig, who has been on sick leave since June of this year, was due to return to work shortly but has now been suspended on full pay, without prejudice, pending the outcome of these inquiries, the committee heard.

The committee heard Mr Craig reported to assistant director Gerry Pyke and Mr Molloy. Mr Pyke is now retired.

The head of the audit committee on the Fás board Niall Saul told the committee the failure to detect the problems in corporate affairs had occurred at executive level.

Mr Saul told the meeting it was "clear from issues that have emerged in recent times" that there were "a number of activities and practices in the organisation, centring around the corporate affairs area, that constituted failure of control and oversight of expenditure acquired by certain executives by others in executive positions".

Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday said Mr Molloy did the honourable thing by resigning and that he had been a good public servant.

Additional reporting: PA