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Monday 27 March 2017

Writing was on the wall after expenses debacle

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

IN the end, it all boiled down to the signatures scrawled repeatedly on those lavish expenses claims.

The public outrage over the excessive spending of taxpayers' money by the former head of FAS, Rody Molloy, amongst others, proved the catalyst that sounded the death knell for the troubled state jobs agency.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn yesterday admitted that the furore surrounding those lavish foreign travel receipts -- including €643,000 on transatlantic travel over a four-year period at FAS -- triggered the announcement of the wind down of the troubled agency.

It is now 32 months since Mr Molloy raised the public's ire on national radio as he claimed he was "entitled to first-class travel" in an attempt to defend travel and entertainment spending for executives and their wives at the agency.

He had charged the state agency $942 (€656) for a game of golf in the Grand Cypress Resort in Florida. Over a four-year period, at times flying with his wife Noreen, he notched up almost €48,000 in business-class air fares.

Splurging

A day after his lengthy radio interview, he resigned his €203,000-a-year position overseeing the agency's €1bn budget as opposition leaders criticised the "splurging" of taxpayers' funds.

But there was yet more to come as politicians weighed in to criticise his "golden handshake" deal worth almost €1.1m -- including a pension worth €111,000 a year, a once-off lump sum of €333,000 and an ex-gratia payment of €111,000.

Steps have been taken to tackle the litany of waste at the agency in the months since Mr Molloy's departure.

Eventually, officials in the Department of Education deemed the brand of the training agency was irreparably tarnished.

The 2,000-strong workforce will now be transferred to the Department of Social Protection and the VECs who will be involved in the further education programme.

Around 300 of the 2,000 staff will be moved over to work in the new authority, Solas.

FAS director general Paul O'Toole -- appointed to aid the troubled agency in the aftermath of the expenses scandal -- will be transferred to head up the new agency.

Irish Independent

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