Paper trail reveals a cesspool of waste and cronyism
Shane Ross and Nick Webb tell how boxes upon boxes of credit card statements and receipts documented the huge expenses of FAS directors
ON a drizzly grey November afternoon in 2008, sipping coffee out of paper cups in the Insomnia cafe across the road from FAS headquarters on Upper Baggot Street, Dublin, we watched the comings and goings of the staff at Ireland's semi-state training and employment agency.
The employees, shuffling in and out of the grim concrete building, looked like beaten dockets. Morale at the agency was low, and no wonder: it had been receiving some unwelcome media attention, following a series of probes by the Comptroller & Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee into advertising and promotion spending overruns. There was a whiff of scandal in the air -- a whiff that was soon to grow into the stench of rotting waste.
When the time came, we walked across Baggot Street, spoke to the receptionist and were met by the head of the Freedom of Information Unit, Michael Bowden. He escorted us into the creaky lift and up to the fifth floor.