26 November 2008

Cowen praises disgraced former FÁS Boss

Taoiseach Brian Cowen (left) has commended the former FÁS Director General Rody Molloy, who resigned in disgrace late last night (see yesterday's entry), "on his decision to step down".

Cowen said that Molloy, a fellow Offaly man, had "made a valuable contribution to FÁS" and that "his resignation showed that confidence in him was justified because he has proved himself to be accountable".

When I heard these words, I first feared that there was something wrong with my ears.

But no, Cowen did indeed praise Rody Molloy (right), an unrepentant and arrogant sponger and selfish waster of taxpayers' money, who was forced to step down after eight years as Director General of the state's employment and training authority, after the brave independent Senator Shane Ross exposed the corrupt practices in the senior echelons of FÁS and the colossal amounts of money Molloy and some of his fellow directors had spent on themselves and on lavish corporate entertainment and foreign travel.

One has to pause here for a moment, let this sink in and reflect.

Molloy is a man who - as a public servant - wasted huge amounts of our money on things that were neither necessary nor justifiable. A man whose attitude was - and still is - that, as a large pig at the state's through, he was "entitled" to only the best and took uncontrolled advantage of every possible perk he could get.
And then there is the country's Prime Minister (and former Minister for Finance), who not only gave this man his "full support" when the scandal broke, saying that he was "a very good public servant", but who now - after his forced resignation - still praises him in the highest possible way, as if Molloy had just found the cure for cancer.

This is outrageous, and a scandal in itself! And adding his insult to the immense injury Molloy has caused the nation, Cowen describes him as "accountable". Has the Taoiseach now lost his mind completely?!
Accountable? If there is anything specifically Rody Molloy was not, then it is accountable.
He would still sit in his comfortable chair and enjoy the lifestyle of a king, had Senator Shane Ross not exposed the scandal.

Over the now six months as Taoiseach, Brian Cowen has shown no leadership qualities, but instead demonstrated on many occasions his incompetence, arrogance and lack of judgement. He has also again and again exposed his short-sighted and narrow-minded views on major policies, and in all this also been extremely rude, foul-mouthed and ill-mannered. In short, he is by far the worst Taoiseach this country has ever had.

But today's statement has added a new dimension to Brian Cowen. He has now publicly stated that he approves of corruption, spongers and the massive waste of taxpayers' money on a luxury lifestyle for the senior civil servants of this country. And all this at a time when we are in deep recession and face the worst financial crisis in living memory.

Anyone who can tolerate Brian Cowen any longer as the leader of our government and country must be completely blind, deaf and totally without moral fibre. The man is an utter disgrace and should resign as Taoiseach - and as TD - immediately!

However, he is still muddling on and pretends nothing has happened. And even the opposition is not (yet) willing to attack him in the way he deserves.

During Leaders' Questions in the Dáil today Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny (left) only said that "the entire board of FÁS should also consider their positions". Quite right, and well put!
But Kenny should have called for the resignation of Brian Cowen and his Tánaiste Mary Coughlan - who, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, is directly responsible for FÁS - as well.

Yesterday Kenny highlighted a € 410 bill from a nail and beauty salon in Florida, which was paid with an official FÁS credit card. He asked if this was what taxpayers' money should be spent on, and again he was spot on.
This one outrageous example is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. Kenny could and should have been a lot more forceful on the matter, and we all would have applauded him.
But one of the problems with Fine Gael is that they are way too soft on the government and let Cowen and his cronies get away with too much incompetence, arrogance and blunder.

Meanwhile FÁS says that it will "announce the appointment of an acting Director General for an interim period, pending the recruitment of a full-time successor to Mr. Molloy".
It does not surprise me that they are very fast in shoring up the damage, as they are still hoping to get away with their scandalous culture of self-serving perks. What happened over years was not only done by Rody Molloy, although he was in charge, set the example and approved of everything. There were and still are many more culprits in the organisation, and they should go as well. How could we ever again trust FÁS if they remained in their positions?

Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen, the chairman of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said that Rody Molloy had "no choice but to resign".
He told RTÉ that he had hoped to have him before the committee tomorrow, to ask him to explain his € 5.7 million expenditure for 2007. But with his resignation Molloy escaped this planned grilling by TDs.

Rody Molloy's resignation is unlikely to end questions about financial controls at FÁS, especially as the PAC and the Comptroller and Auditor General were already investigating spending at the organisation for quite some time. (see my entries of September 22nd & 23rd)
In a statement FÁS has said it will "continue to co-operate with the investigations", which will now want to know more about financial controls in the organisation, and how closely spending by senior management was supervised by the board and the government.

Well, they don't really have a choice, have they? The cat is out of the bag now, and everyone in the country knows about the scandalous practices at FÁS. People are rightfully outraged, and they want to see this quagmire of corruption and self-serving arrogance drained and sorted out once and for all.
In my opinion the best solution would be to abolish the whole organisation and replace it with a smaller, better and more efficient agency, directly controlled by the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment. But in order to get that, we first need a new minister in charge of this department.

The Emerald Islander

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