Monday 23 September 2019

how the fas scandal unfolded

November 23, 2008

The Sunday Independent exposes the shameless waste of taxpayers' money at Fas. Following a three-month investigation, our award-winning business writers Shane Ross and Nick Webb reveal how officials at the bloated state agency splashed out €643,000 on foreign junkets over four years. Details of first-class flights for officials and their wives, four-star hotels, gourmet meals and rounds of golf in the sunny climes of Florida lead to a public outcry.

November 24, 2008

In a move that will later prove to be his undoing, Fas director general Rody Molloy attempts to defend his and his officials' obscene expenses bill in an interview on the Today with Pat Kenny show.

Seemingly oblivious to the depth of public anger, Mr Molloy insists that he was "entitled" to travel first-class when flying, and similarly had been entitled to exchange a first-class ticket for two business-class tickets for himself and his wife when travelling to the United States.

November 25, 2008

In a statement released just before 11pm that night, Fas confirms that it has "accepted with regret" Mr Molloy's resignation from his post as director general. It says Mr Molloy has made the decision after "long and difficult consideration", believing it to be in the best interests of Fas.

Earlier that day, Taoiseach Brian Cowen attempts to defend Mr Molloy in the Dail against opposition attacks. He backtracks from his position that evening, however, when the Fas scandal is raised by angry TDs at a meeting of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party.

November 26, 2008

Mr Molloy's resignation dominates Dail proceedings as the opposition parties quiz Taoiseach Brian Cowen on the terms of the Fas chief's resignation.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny seeks assurances that there will be no "agreement on severance pay or a golden handshake" until Mr Molloy co-operates with investigations of the Public Accounts Committee into spending at the crisis-ridden state agency.

Mr Cowen responds, saying Mr Molloy's severance arrangements are "in line with public service norms", while commending him for being both accountable and honourable in his actions and decision to resign.

December 4, 2008

Mr Molloy appears before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer questions from TDs probing spending at FAS.

He explains his decision to resign, describing how his position had become untenable "both publicly and within the (Fas) organisation" in the face of this newspaper's revelations.

The PAC also hears of Mr Molloy's meetings and contacts with Tanaiste Mary Coughlan in the days leading up to his decision to resign. Notably, Mr Molloy provides little detail of their conversations.

September 10, 2009

The Fas scandal explodes again with the publication by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the results of its investigations into expenditure into advertising and promotions at the agency.

Special Report 66 reveals further breathtaking waste with €600,000 alone spent on a TV advert that was never broadcast.

Public anger spirals. Ms Coughlan "welcomes the report".

September 13, 2009

Just as the Government hopes the scandal will go away, the Sunday Independent reveals how former Fas chief Rody Molloy had his pension boosted by an eye-watering €1.4m following the intervention of Ms Coughlan and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. Typically, both ministers attempt to lay the blame on each other for the decision.

This newspaper reveals how Ms Coughlan "sweetened the deal" by adding five years to 55-year-old Mr Molloy's service in return for his agreement to leave his post early.

September 24, 2009

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hears how Mr Molloy extracted his €1.4m "golden handshake" on foot of day-long negotiations with Ms Coughlan's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Ms Coughlan's secretary general Sean Gorman tells the PAC of Mr Molloy's threat to take legal action against the State if he is not "treated reasonably".

In a further, shocking twist, it emerges that nobody in either the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment or in the Department of Finance sought legal advice before agreeing to Mr Molloy's demands.

Mr Cowen later defends the deal, saying it was made to facilitate Mr Molloy's immediate departure. He also expresses full confidence in the Tanaiste.

September 25, 2009

The Taoiseach and senior ministers, including Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and Green Party leader and Environment Minister John Gormley, deny the Cabinet had been aware of Mr Molloy's severance package.

Mr Molloy briefly re-emerges to tender his resignation as chairman of the Institute of Public Administration.

Pressure grows on Ms Coughlan as Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny calls on her to go before the Public Accounts Committee to explain her actions

Meanwhile, her department issues a statement insisting the matter of seeking legal advice on Mr Molloy's package did not arise as concern over legal action had not been the "deciding factor".

September 26, 2009

The pressure on Ms Coughlan continues, with Labour leader Eamon Gilmore questioning her "suitability" for her position.

Fine Gael TD Billy Timmins is more forthright on the matter, calling on Mr Cowen to fire Ms Coughlan.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, meanwhile, defends the Government's deal with Mr Molloy, describing it as being in the best interests of the taxpayer.

Ronald Quinlan

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