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Friday 23 March 2018

SIPTU unaware official used taxpayers' money for trip

Michael Brennan, Deputy Political Editor

SIPTU says it was not aware of extent of foreign travel by former official using taxpayers' funds.

The country's largest trade union SIPTU has said it did not know about the extent of the foreign travel by a former official using taxpayers' funds.

Former SIPTU national industrial secretary Matt Merrigan went on multiple trips to the USA during the 2004-2007 period. 

But SIPTU said it was not aware that the trips were being funded by taxpayers grants sent into a bank account titled "SIPTU National Health and Local Authority Fund"

SIPTU general secretary Joe O'Flynn said the union did not know the full extent of the trips being undertaken by Mr Merrigan.

And he said he had no idea the funding was coming from a bank account with SIPTU's name in the title.

At the Dail's Public Accounts committee, he said the union's image had been damaged by the controversy.

The state spending watchdog, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy, told the committee that a net total of over €3m went into the "SIPTU National Health and Local Authority Fund" bank account'. He said that the money had been supplied by a variety of public bodies - and that significant amounts had been spent on travel and accommodation and hospitality. In total, trade union officials and senior public servant went on over 40 foreign trips which were paid for out of the bank account.

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