Union official went on trips paid out of fund in probe
Published 25/09/2010 | 05:00
A senior member of the trade union movement has revealed he went on two trips paid for out of a €2.35m fund being probed by the garda fraud squad.
Assistant General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Peter Bunting (pictured right), told the Irish Independent he visited the US twice on study trips -- one to New York and the other to Savannah, Georgia.
Mr Bunting said the visits were directly related to a training programme for low-skilled health workers that the fund was intended for and he had no idea there might be any financial irregularities.
The fund is subject to many investigations after the HSE -- which believed it was paying the money to SIPTU to administer the programme -- found most of the spending could not be accounted for in an internal audit.
The Comptroller and Auditor General also raised serious concerns about the purpose of some of over 31 trips paid for out of it.
"I was on two trips," said Mr Bunting. "They were on the SKILL programme for the development of healthcare and local government staff. I was asked to be part of the delegation by a senior trade union official and, as far as I was concerned, I felt it was all above board."
Officials from the departments of Health and Finance, and union officials travelled on the study trips between 2004 and 2009.