Thursday 18 October 2018

Call for KWETB councillors to 'consider their positions'

There were calls for two county councillors sitting on the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) to 'consider their position' following heated exchanges in the Council Chamber on Monday.

Cllr Tommy Cullen raised the special investigation being carried out into how KWETB conducts its business.

The investigation is being led by Richard Thorn, president emeritus of Sligo Institute of Technology, and is focusing on KWETB's performance, especially regarding public procurement, usage and disposal of assets and propriety matters.

The action has been taken following issues raised in an 2015 audit of KWETB's operation by the Controller and Auditor General and subsequent correspondence between the department and the ETB.

Cllr Cullen said: 'We know there was an emergency meeting called today and a special investigator, Richard Thorn, has been appointed. The Comptroller and Auditor General is also carrying out an investigation. KWETB had two board meetings in secret, closed to the press, which is not appropriate. There has been no report brought back to this council. I am not happy with the secrecy and it is now developing into a scandal.'

Wicklow County Council cathaoirleach Cllr Edward Timmins interrupted and said he would have to absent himself from the meeting as he is a board member of KWETB. Fellow member councillors Jennifer Whitmore, Nicola Lawless, Gail Dunne, Jimmy Ruttle and Tommy Annesley also absented themselves from the meeting. Leas cathaoirleach Cllr Tommy Vance took over the chairperson role from Cllr Timmins.

Cllr Cullen continued and called for the council to write to the Minister for the Department of Education and Skills to find out what is going on.

Cllr Tom Fortune was the next to speak, stating: 'I also strongly suggest that councillors Ruttle and Whitmore need to consider their positions...'

However he was interrupted by Cllr Vance, in his role as leas Cathaoirleach, who said: 'Cllr Cullen is asking for a specific item. You can't just throw around accusations like that. Cllr Cullen wanted communication with the Minister.'

Cllr Fortune interjected and said: 'They voted to hold that meeting in secret with no transparency.'

Cllr Christopher Fox felt due process had to be allowed take its course. 'To be fair this investigation has come as a big of a shock to those councillors as anyone else. There is no way you could have a public meeting when these sort of allegations are being investigated. To call for them to resign is ridiculous. They are going through due process as the investigation continues.'

Bray People