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27 November 2008 Edition

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Government must take responsibility for FÁS scandal

THERE is widespread anger and dismay among the general public at the revelations of the gross waste of public money at senior levels of the 26 County Training and Employment Authority FÁS.
The resignation of FÁS Chief Executive Rody Molloy this week was the appropriate decision to make amid mounting revelations of the squandering of large sums of money by his organisation.
Molloy’s decision was made following revelations that FÁS executives have been spending thousands of euros on first-class air travel abroad, expensive rounds of golf and luxury items. Reports over the weekend revealed that the agency has spent more than €600,000 in the past four years on trips abroad.
Rody Molloy left his post before the appearance by FÁS representatives at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee on Thursday. It has been reported that further revelations about FÁS expenses will come to light in the coming days, under the Freedom of Information Act.
Public anger over the FÁS revelations is particularly acute in an atmosphere where thousands of jobs are at risk, where the government is preparing to slash public services in next month’s budget, and where relatively low-paid public sector workers are being attacked by right-wing political representatives and their cheerleaders in the establishment media.
The outcry among people across the country has been compounded by Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s public support for Molloy just 24 hours before his resignation. Cowen’s stance is reminiscent of his actions in presiding over the running down of the health services in the 26 Counties under HSE Chief Executive Brendan Drumm.
It is now clear that Rody Molloy has become the scapegoat for a culture of malpractice within the FÁS hierarchy. As Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan pointed out this week, Rody Molloy is not the only senior civil servant who has presided over massive wastages of money and mismanagement of a state body.
The Government, who are legally obliged to oversee expenses at a body which is funded by the tax-payer must now take responsibility for this scandal.

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