Saturday 21 October 2017

New documents show McGuinness paid for wife's attendance at event in London

John McGuinness
John McGuinness
John Drennan

John Drennan

Records supplied by John Murphy, secretary-general of the Department of Enterprise and Employment, to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concerning a trip to London when PAC chairman John McGuinness was accompanied by his wife, indicate that Deputy McGuinness paid the bill for his wife's attendance at the event.

During the previous week's cross-examination of the PAC chairman over a series of controversies, the admission by McGuinness that he had taken his wife on a trip to London sparked much concern among certain members of the PAC, such as Fine Gael's Simon Harris and Paschal Donohoe.

Committee members expressed concern over the chairperson's inability to recall any details of the payment arrangements surrounding an event that occurred in 2008.

In particular, Harris – who had earlier compared the travails of McGuinness to those of ex-FAS chairman Rody Molloy – warned that the committee chairman would have to give a comprehensive response on this issue.

Much of the furore surrounding McGuinness – who responded to Harris by noting that he and Molloy were like "chalk and cheese" – surrounded the anxiety of McGuinness that his wife be allowed travel abroad with the then minister at his own expense.

However, last Thursday, at a meeting of the PAC, documentation furnished by the Department of Enterprise revealed that when it came to attendance of Mrs McGuinness at a Capital Markets Symposium in London "neither the Department nor Enterprise Ireland have any records of payments being transacted by the Department or Enterprise Ireland in respect of Mrs Mc Guinness's attendance''.

The revelation is expected to end a series of controversies that has led to allegations that a secret cabal of civil servants was out to get the difficult chairman of the PAC.

One senior political figure from the previous administration told the Sunday Independent they had "no doubt a file had been collected on Mr McGuinness for safekeeping should the need arise; he was not terribly loved''.

But intriguingly, what has been described as a witch-hunt against McGuinness has angered many in the public sector. The PAC chairman has been pigeon-holed by certain interested parties as being an enemy of public sector workers. However, the Sunday Independent has learnt that concerns exist over what "appears to be a bit of a singling out'' of the controversial figure.

One source noted: "McGuinness was not perfect but if you look at what other ministers were doing, when you look at the antics of Siptu and Matt Merrigan, it is difficult to understand the emphasis being placed on this one man."

Irish Independent

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