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Finance chief must answer for €3.6bn

SERIOUS questions remain to be answered over the €3.6bn accounting error at the Department of Finance. That such a gargantuan amount could be 'lost' is mind-boggling, if not frightening.

Two inquiries are planned, but ultimately the buck stops with the head of the department -- Secretary General Kevin Cardiff.

This career civil servant appeared before the Public Accounts Committee yesterday.

His performance will have done little to instil confidence in taxpayers.

Cardiff says he is "puzzled" as to how the mistake occurred and claimed his record was "very solid".

He resisted calls to resign, instead making cryptic comments about "keeping the ship afloat".

No doubt Mr Cardiff has his eye on his posting to the European Court of Auditors next February -- at a salary of €277,000. He could not assure the committee that the mistake would be cleared up before then.

Until an adequate explanation for the error is offered, this appointment cannot go ahead.