Croke Park used as jobs fair venue 'to save lives of children'
FORMER FAS director general Rody Molloy has claimed he moved the Opportunities Fair from the RDS to Croke Park to save the lives of children.
He said that the catering facilities at the RDS had been "unacceptable" in terms of standard and price, and that children had been "ducking and diving" across a road to get food elsewhere.
"I made the comment that if one of the kids gets hit by a car or killed, it would be our fault," he said.
So he requested the public affairs department to find a new venue and Croke Park was selected without putting the €2m contract out to public tender.
Mr Molloy said that this was done because there was no other venue in Dublin which was big enough.
He backed up previous comments by incoming GAA president Christy Cooney, an assistant director with FAS, who said he was not involved in the process.
"Just to re-affirm that Mr Cooney had no hand, act or part in the decision," said Mr Molloy.
The committee heard that while there had been problems with crowd control during the first FAS fair in Croke Park, it had been "quite successful" in recent years.
FAS also moved the Opportunities Fair in Cork from City Hall to a facility owned by Nemo Rangers, a GAA club in the city.
Mr Molloy said that City Hall had not been the perfect venue and had not been available for further fairs.
"We had to look at alternatives. Our media partners, the 'Irish Examiner', suggested Nemo Rangers as a location that might be suitable," he said.
Mr Molloy also defended his decision to buy a five-acre site in Birr, Co Offaly, last year for a new headquarters, even though plans to decentralise 400 FAS staff already appeared to be dead in the water.
He said that FAS was under instructions from the Government to acquire a site as part of the decentralisation process.
The site cost €1.5m, and the rent on a temporary office cost €1m but just 26 of the planned 400 staff have agreed to move there.