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Thursday 26 April 2018

Majority of education boards refuse to reveal payments

The majority of education boards refused to reveal the payments that had been made to councillors
The majority of education boards refused to reveal the payments that had been made to councillors

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

A NUMBER of local education authorities have refused to divulge details of tens of thousands of euro in payments made to city and county councillors.

Just five of the country's 16 education and training boards (ETBs) – formerly known as VECs – agreed to provide the Irish Independent with full information about expenses claimed by councillors who were appointed to their organisation.

One of them, Waterford and Wexford ETB, only provided information relating to payments made to Wexford councillors.

ETBs run about a third of the State's secondary schools and also offer adult education courses.

Unlike most bodies which receive public funding, ETBs are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

However, they are audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General and are obliged to make an annual return to the Department of Education.

The Irish Independent wrote to each ETB in January, requesting information on payments to its members for 2012 and 2013.

A large proportion of the membership of these boards is made up of local authority members who can claim expenses for attending meetings and fees for sitting on interview boards.

Just five of these – the City Of Dublin ETB, Laois and Offaly ETB, Longford and Westmeath ETB, Louth and Meath ETB, and Tipperary ETB – provided the information requested.

City of Dublin ETB disclosed expenses payments to board members totalling €59,684 for 2012 and 2013. Councillors received €44,960 of this sum, with independent councillor Paddy Bourke (€13,807) claiming the highest level of expenses across the two years.

Expenses paid out by Laois and Offaly ETB for 2012 and 2013 totalled €81,370, of which €45,368 went to county councillors.

Longford and Westmeath ETB paid out expenses totalling €74,072 for 2012 and 2013, with €39,278 of this going to county councillors.

A total of €84,784 was paid out in expenses by Louth and Meath ETB across 2012 and 2013. Of this, county councillors received €40,274.

Expenses paid out by Tipperary ETB totalled €112,918 across 2012 and 2013, some €43,848 of which went to county councillors.

Kerry ETB said that "due to constraints on resources available and other work pressures" it would not be able to divulge the information until later this month.

Limerick and Clare ETB chief executive Sean Burke said it would not release the information because it was not covered by FOI.

Kilkenny and Carlow ETB chief executive Cynthia Deane also said it had decided not to provide the information requested.

She said it would list the expenses paid to board members in its annual report.

Donegal ETB said it was writing to its members to see if they would consent to releasing the information about the expenses they claimed.

Other organisations simply didn't respond to our request.

These included Cork ETB, Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB, Galway and Roscommon ETB, Kildare and Wicklow ETB, Kilkenny and Carlow ETB, and the Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim ETB.

Irish Independent

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