Saturday 17 March 2018

College chartered two controversial flights

Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

THE controversial €4,200 flight chartered by Waterford Institute of Technology for official business was not the only occasion on which the college paid for private aircraft.

Details of a second private flight were revealed at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday, almost two months after a consultants' report first claimed WIT spent €4,200 chartering an aircraft.

It emerged that information supplied about the €4,200 was incorrect -- and that rather than being a flight from Waterford to Dublin, it was actually a return flight from Filton Airport in Bristol to Dublin in June 2007.

A second chartered flight, from Waterford to Dublin, had actually cost €760, the committee was told. PAC vice-chairman, Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell described the anomalies in the paper trail as a "calamity of errors".

Higher Education Authority Sean Boland admitted the situation was "completely unacceptable" but he said HEA could not be expected to police all spending by education bodies.

Department of Education officials were unable to explain to the TDs why the €4,200 invoice did not include a normal breakdown of flight costs.

"We received it at 4.26pm yesterday," said department secretary general Sean O Foghlu. "We have no further knowledge (of the second flight)."

WIT declined to comment on the revelations last night.

Irish Independent

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