25 November 2008

Rody Molloy resigns as Director General of FÁS, the National Money Wasting Authority

This evening Rody Molloy (right) has resigned as the Director General of the Irish training and employment authority FÁS.
It appears that the former career civil servant, who had been in charge of FÁS for the past eight years, jumped before he could be pushed by his political masters.

Since the publication (in the Sunday Independent) of a detailed investigation into FÁS and its lavish and extravagant spending of public money on the senior executives, Molloy had come under severe pressure from the media and from various opposition politicians, in particular the Fine Gael spokesman of Enterprise and Trade, Dr. Leo Varadkar, TD.

Only yesterday morning Rody Molloy appeared on the Today programme with Pat Kenny on RTÉ Radio 1 and defended in a very grandeur manner his extraordinary spending spree. Charlie Haughey could not have done it any better.
Being confronted by Pat Kenny with the findings of the investigation, Molloy showed not a bit of regret or remorse. He had no specific answers to the allegations and only repeated the mantra that he had "done nothing wrong". With amazing arrogance he stated that he was "entitled" to first class flights to the USA, and then admitted that he had "traded them in for business class tickets", so he could take his wife along on official trips - at the taxpayers' expense.
He also said that the over $ 900 of FÁS money he spent on a single game of golf and a $ 400 bill from a 'beauty and nail bar' in Florida "was just chicken feed" compared with the overall budget of his organisation. Well, this showed clearly the man's attitude as a shameless sponger who was habitually spending taxpayers' money on his lavish personal lifestyle.

Molloy's resignation is not more than right, but he is only the proverbial tip of the wasteful and outrageous iceberg that is FÁS. And this is only one of the many state agencies, which might well have practiced the same lavish lifestyle as FÁS has.

Officially Foras Áiseanna Saothair (FÁS) is the national training and employment authority of the Republic of Ireland. It was established by the government in January 1988 under the Labour Services Act 1987.

But - as the investigation by the independent Senator Shane Ross (left) under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed - FÁS is really the national money wasting authority.

And with a weekly budget of more than € 20 million there is a lot of money to waste. Much, it appears, is spent on lavish corporate entertainment for senior staff of the state agency, as well as on frequent luxury trips to the USA.

Since Senator Ross has done all the work and research, he deserves the full credit for it and I will not repeat his findings here in detail. If you want to read them - and I would highly recommend that you do - go to > http://www.shane-ross.ie/archives/422/fas-chiefs-enjoy-a-good-life/

The article makes definitely very interesting reading and opens one's eyes to the appalling and scandalous way in which the top brass of FÁS, which is supposed to create new jobs and train Irish people who are out of work, spends taxpayers' money on themselves.

It is quite unbelievable that during the boom times of the 'Celtic Tiger', when there was virtually full employment in Ireland, the annual budget of FÁS has risen to one billion Euros. Obviously there were very few people who needed jobs then, so the FÁS management decide to spend the money on themselves.

According to its own website, FÁS has provided services for an average of 89,000 people per annum in the past few years. This means that - statistically - they spent € 11,235.95 on each of these job seekers and trainees. One does not have to be a mathematical genius to work out that they would never spend so much money on one unemployed individual.
as it appears, the 'clients' were only an inconvenient burden for FÁS. Its real purpose was and perhaps still is to have a safe and well-paid public service job with plenty of lavish perks, all at the taxpayers' expense.
The few times I had dealings with them I always felt that they saw 'clients' as an inconvenient interruption of their internal meetings, coffee breaks and other things that went on behind closed doors. FÁS is not really interested in the general public of Ireland. It is far more concerned with its own little world, planet FÁS.

I wonder how much Molloy will receive now as a 'golden handshake'. In my opinion he should be receiving nothing at all! In fact, the Department of Finance should go through his expenses with a very fine comb and claw back all the money he wasted on private entertainment.

Rody Molloy had been scheduled to appear before the Oireachtas' Public Accounts Committee, which will be sitting on Thursday. I wonder if he will still turn up, or if he will use his resignation as an excuse for not accounting for his wasteful and scandalous behaviour.

However, people like Rody Molloy, who comes from the Taoiseach's home county Offaly and has a cosy relationship with Brian Cowen for a long time, are - as I mentioned above - only the tips of the iceberg of waste that has been built up in the Irish civil and public service under the rule of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, himself a man with a cavalier attitude to money.

I bet that there are plenty of people like Rody Molloy, who have spent taxpayers' money with both hands, but without any concern or prudency, over the past ten years of boom. Their lavish lifestyle was of course inspired by the late Charles J. Haughey, and further encouraged by Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.
Haughey is dead now, and thus has escaped the unravelling of this scandal. But both Ahern and Cowen are still with us and should be held accountable as well for their share of the waste and mis-spending of public funds.

Responsibility also falls on the shoulders of the 15 members of the Board of FÁS, who have done nothing to prevent or stop the misuse of public money by the agency's senior executives. Either they were asleep for the past eight years, or they are not up to their job. So the least they could and should do now is to resign and make the way free for a complete overhaul and reorganisation of FÁS.
Some analysts have already suggested that the agency cannot survive in its present form, and I would support the idea of scrapping it, in favour of a more streamlined and target-orientated new national employment agency.

It will be quite interesting to see how many more skeletons will be found in the cupboards of the numerous Irish state agencies. Many of these organisations, for which there is really no need in a small country like Ireland, were created by Bertie Ahern to create extra jobs 'for the boys (and girls)' of Fianna Fáil. The best way to deal with them - and their wasteful behaviour - would be to abolish them again. But before that can happen, we will need a new government.

Only yesterday Taoiseach Brian Cowen (right) has stated publicly that "he knows Rody Molloy" (of course he does, as they come from the same county) and that he is "a very good public servant".
Such demonstrative loyalty and support for an exposed sponger and systematic waster of taxpayers' money shows that Cowen is completely out of touch with reality and certainly not fit to lead the government and the country.

For him the loyalty to an old pal might be a question of rural principles, but it is not the behaviour we expect from the Taoiseach, especially at a time when he and his Finance Minister Brian Lenihan are making us all suffer for the economic failures and financial imprudence of his - and his preecessor's - government.

When he realised that time was up, Rody Molloy had at least the sensitivity to resign quickly, in order to avoid more damaging exposure. Brian Cowen seems to lack such sensitivity. Otherwise he would have stepped down already and made the way free for either a new government, or - which would be better - a general election.

The Emerald Islander

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