23 September 2008

Serious Allegations against FÁS

An investigation into the expenditure of FÁS (Foras Áiseanna Saothair), Ireland's national training and employment authority, will be undertaken by the State's Comptroller & Auditor General, John Buckley.
(see also my yesterday's entries)

This official step has been taken reluctantly by the Tánaiste (and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment) Mary Coughlan (right), after speculations and serious allegations in the media created a demand for answers to two questions:
1) Why is FÁS getting so much money?
2) What are they doing with it all?
It has emerged that the annual budget of FÁS is more than one billion Euros, and it has steadily increased over the recent years of economic boom, growth and prosperity.

One wonders why the national training and employment authority was receiving and spending a lot more money during a time of very low unemployment, when they had really little to do, than during times of high unemployment.

The matter was first raised in Seanad Éireann by one man, independent Senator Shane Ross (left), who remained at first a lonely voice demanding clarity about the running and financial affairs of FÁS. None of the 59 other Senators seemed interested or offered support.
However, after Senator Ross went public - including an appearance on the popular Late Late Show (on RTÉ 1 television) last Friday evening - the media as well as several opposition politicians began to take up the matter as well.

Even though the Tanaiste declared that she has confidence in the leadership of FÁS, there are many serious questions about the operation of the agency. John Buckley will need some time to investigate, and it will be very interesting to read his report in due course.

The Emerald Islander

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