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Sunday 21 January 2018

Agency rented 'fire-hazard' warehouse

Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

FAS SPENT almost €250,000 renting a warehouse for five years which was a potential fire hazard – even though some officials warned before the contract was signed that it did not meet basic safety requirements.

FAS was unable to use the building in the Tolka Valley Business Park in Dublin as a workshop to train people and was forced to use it as a storage space instead.

FAS assistant director general Conor Dunne said the building did not have a fire safety certificate or a health and safety certificate.

"It was supposed to be for training but it wasn't fit for purpose," Mr Dunne said.

FAS said it had paid €249,000 over the course of the 2007-2011 lease for the warehouse.

The Dail's Public Accounts Committee heard that the "one major individual" in FAS responsible for signing the lease had retired in 2008.

The Public Accounts Committee also heard that FAS had taken a €1.1m loss on a temporary office for just 17 staff in Offaly.

The office in Birr was leased in 2004 for 10 years at an annual rent of €100,000.

But after cancellation of the decentralisation project, FAS moved to pull out of the lease. The agency spent over €1.1m fitting out the offices with hi-tech equipment.

FAS also spent €1.5m on buying a site to build a permanent office near Birr, but has now put this site up for sale at a minimum price of €150,000.

And FAS wrote off €4m in relation to the value of the former FAS Training Centre in Cabra in Dublin.

FAS director general Paul O'Toole said that €7.4m had been spent on upgrading the centre over its 35-year history but that it had been valued at just €1.2m when it was vacated in 2010.

Irish Independent

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