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Tuesday 27 June 2017

Mystery surrounds €30,000 in Croker tickets

FAS has no record of who Molloy gifted at public's expense

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

DISGRACED ex-FAS boss Rody Molloy was at the centre of a fresh row last night after it emerged that documentation revealing the beneficiaries of more than €30,000 worth of Croke Park event tickets and hospitality cannot be found.

The former FAS director general signed off on all of the controversial spending, at taxpayers' expense, before he was forced to step down in 2008. He was also responsible for distributing the tickets.

However, officials at the state training agency have been unable to find records of who Mr Molloy gave the tickets to.

FAS admitted to the Irish Independent it could not find ticket allocation records despite a month-long trawl.

The revelation has deepened the mystery surrounding who benefited from Mr Molloy's largesse with public funds and has sparked calls from opposition TDs for a full-scale investigation into the issue.

During the trawl, FAS officials could only find ticket lists for two events -- a 2006 Robbie Williams concert and the 2007 All-Ireland hurling final.

They were unable to find records for concerts by U2, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, The Police, Westlife and Neil Diamond.

Documentation also could not be found in relation to seven All-Ireland football finals and six All-Ireland hurling finals, as well as several soccer and rugby internationals.

Mr Molloy has refused to clarify what he did with the tickets.

He did not return calls from the Irish Independent seeking comment last night.

FAS also got no response after it wrote to Mr Molloy seeking an explanation for the concert and match spending.

In a statement, FAS said it was not in a position to state whether the records it had been looking for had ever existed.

The agency also said it would not be offering entertainment or corporate hospitality of this nature in the future.

A report by the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) last January found that there was no evidence to indicate how spending on concert and match tickets was relevant to the agency's business.

Of the records found, one reveals how tickets for the 2007 All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Limerick were given to officials at the Department of Finance and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

A FAS employee from Limerick was also given tickets.

Some 30 corporate level tickets were bought for the Robbie Williams concert.

An invoice from Croke Park to former FAS assistant director general, now GAA president, Christy Cooney, revealed that €1,532 was spent on food for guests, €280 was spent on wine and €443 on other beverages.

In a subsequent letter from Mr Molloy to Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna, the former director general wrote: "We thoroughly enjoyed the food and the hospitality. Although I am not a 'Robbie' fan I must say it was a very enjoyable evening."

Investigation

In total, Mr Molloy signed off on the spending of some €7,000 on tickets for All-Ireland football and hurling finals.

Ten tickets were purchased for each final between 2006 and 2008, while between four and eight were bought for each final between 2002 and 2005.

More than €6,000 was spent on hospitality at finals between 2005 and 2007.

Some €4,640 was spent on tickets for rugby internationals between 2006 and 2008, while €1,960 went on tickets for soccer internationals between 2007 and 2008. Concert tickets purchased between 2005 and 2008 cost €3,724.

Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar said the absence of records revealing who benefited from the tickets "does not reflect well on the organisation". He called on FAS to conduct "a proper investigation", and to contact all its staff seeking information.

Irish Independent

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