Friday 20 January 2017

Watchdog probes Quango Xmas parties

Published 02/12/2012 | 05:00

The Comptroller & Auditor General, the State spending watchdog, has probed quango Christmas party spending.

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In an email obtained by the Sunday Independent, Alan Richardson, a senior executive at the Commission for Aviation Regulation, on October 1 contacted heads of administration at a range of State agencies and quangos including the Pensions Board, Equality Tribunal, Arts Council and other bodies to ask if they were being probed by the C&AG over spending on Christmas parties and legal cases.

Last year the Commission spent €1,103 on a Christmas party for its 20 staff.

The email notes: "We've been trying to get the C&AG to sign off on our 2011 accounts for months. Two new requirements have recently been made by them. Staff entertaining expenditure in excess of €1,000 per annum is to be disclosed. This would relate to our Christmas party."

It adds: "Where we have had court actions or potential actions, the C&AG wish to examine the legal opinion as to the strength of the case. Has anybody had similar experiences of such requirements and if so did you comply or otherwise?"

The quango is headed up by Cathal Guiomard, who earned €195,549 in pay and pension costs last year.

A spokesman for the Commission for Aviation Regulation told the Sunday Independent that the accounts have been signed off. The commission is funded by a levy on passengers travelling through Ireland's airports.

In November 2011, the Government announced proposals to merge the commission with the Irish Aviation Authority as part of the so-called quango cull. "We have engaged with the department and the IAA to give effect to these proposals and we will continue to do so," the Commission noted.

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