Those guidelines cited for the Golden Handshake

The severance package adhered to the guidelines set down by the Department of Finance“, they say. They being Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and various other senior Government figures, including some Greens.

The guidelines they refer to are from a memo sent by the Department of Finance’s Head of Public Service Management and Development to all other government departments on the 26th of May 1998. It was titled “Severance and Early Retirement for Chief Executives of State Sponsored Bodies”.

You can read it below yourself, the bolding is my own. For your information, the Tribune has Mr Molloy listed as 53 as of 2007, making him around 55 or so upon the end of his contract. Also remember that Mr Molloy was head of the Institute of Public Administration until last week, which is a part-publicly-funded body, though he was unpaid (which makes it a grey area in employment law).

A Chara,

Severance and Early Retirement for Chief Executives of State Sponsored Bodies Continue reading “Those guidelines cited for the Golden Handshake”

Dermot Ahern on Molloy's Golden Handshake

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern spoke about Rody Molloy’s €1m slap on the back and the viablity of Mary Coughlan’s position as tánaiste on RTÉ’s The Saturday View, earlier. Click the latest show button to have a listen.

Rachael English asked him if he agreed with his Fianna Fáil back bench colleagues who called Molloy’s pension “madness”.

He opened with a complete irrelevancy and based the rest of his defence on it.

“The fact is, eh, at the particular time, eh, the board spent, eh, well over a day, eh, discussing this issue… emmm… obviously they had certain information, eh, [which] they based their judgment on…”

I do not believe this was the case. I believe the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment would have had to sign off on all this and thus she, as head of the department, was responsible.

However, if it is the case that the board made the final decision to give Mr Molloy €11,000 a year extra on top of his pension, why was it not a member of the Government? Last time I heard, a civil servant didn’t have such a mandate. So who is responsible according to Minister Ahern?

He continues, referring now to Rody Molloy’s outrageous expenses…

Continue reading “Dermot Ahern on Molloy's Golden Handshake”

Tax defaulters list published by Revenue

The list of tax defaulters for April 1st to June 30th of this year was published by the Revenue Commission today.

First eye-catching name, Colm Carroll, who was fined a whopping €2,200. Carroll is a retired solicitor who had a very interesting career.

He was a principal partner in Dublin firm, Roger Greene & Sons with Henry Colley (son of late FF deputy leader George Colley), which the regulatory department of the Law Society began investigating in 2003.

What came thereafter was detailed by Carol Coulter in The Irish Times far better than I could: accounting shortfalls of €197,000, liabilities “disappearing”,  €32m lodged over 3 years into undisclosed bank accounts, swiss bank accounts, these boys had it all. I encourage you to read that link when you get a chance.

They didn’t do it to get one over on their clients but to rather facilitate the under-declaration of income and tax. On the taxpayer, so.

Following the investigation they were suspended and came before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) charged with misconduct. Notably, in the interim they sued the HSE for unpaid fees of €3.2m. The Law Society wanted them struck off. SDT ruled otherwise. The Society took it to the High Court.

I believe that somewhere around this point they made a settlement of €7m with Revenue and each paid €50,000 to the Law Society Compensation Fund. Thanks lads.

In the High Court Mr Justice McKechnie noted “multiple and extremely serious” breaches of  regulations, their “deceit” towards the Law Society, and at least 50 “orchestrated, intentional and conscious acts of misconduct”. But he refused to strike them off too. Why? Well, in short, because they admitted it all.

The Law Society, fair play to them, took it to the Supreme Court for the first time in the history of the State. However, the Supreme Court cannot overrule a High Court judgment unless the High Court judge had made a mistake in the law. The judge had not made a mistake.

So they weren’t stuck off.

They then sought costs totaling €100,000 from the Law Society for The Supreme Court case, and won.

That was a few months ago. Mr Carroll is retired, I’m not sure what Mr Colley is doing.

Further reading, all from The Irish Times

Solicitors blocked efforts to get data on accounts

Law Society appeal refusal to strike off solicitors

Solicitors sue HSE over unpaid fees

Supreme Court refuses to strike off solicitors

Solicitors win order on costs

If you note any other interesting names in the list do feel free to send them on to tips @ thestory DOT ie

Junket John and the public perception of politicians

John O’Donoghue wants only to save his own skin.

He cares not about apologising – or even attempting to justify himself – to the people who pay his wages, allowances, mileage, phone bills, unvouched expenses, advisers’ salaries, second residence upkeep and maintenance bills, hotel bills, office administration costs and limosine bills. Clearly.

Even when Paschal Sheehy of RTÉ doorstepped him – the first unplanned doorstepping I’ve seen here in years – he outright refused to apologise.

O’Donoghue is chair of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission which is tasked with overseeing “ongoing expenditure” and “paying all salaries and expenses and keeping and publishing accounts”. He started this job two years ago, following five years seemingly spent bathing himself in taxpayers’ cash. It has now been proven, mainly by Ken Foxe, that he is and was unqualified to fulfill such a role.

He should step down.

Yet he refuses even to give his employers – the taxpayer – the respect of a straight response. He dodged Paschal Sheehy’s question today and as Elaine Byrne points out in The Irish Times, his letter was addressed to fellow TDs, not the Irish people. Even in that statement he inexplicably refers only to the expenses he has incurred since becoming Ceann Comhairle, not his stark disregard for our money while Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

The excuse for this silence? I quote the man himself:

The nature of the position of Ceann Comhairle as impartial chairman of Dáil Éireann under the Constitution prevents me from becoming embroiled in public controversy in the media or on the floor of the House.

One the many reasons he should step down?

The nature of the position of Ceann Comhairle as impartial chairman of Dáil Éireann under the Constitution prevents them from becoming embroiled in public controversy in the media or on the floor of the House.

I’m no fool, obviously Junket John won’t step down of his own volition, this is Ireland. And I know the gutless Opposition won’t force him out at this point because they’d have to fill his (Italian leather?) shoes with one their own.

But the truth is that unless he goes he will continue to corrode the general perception of our public representatives from the core.

Remember politicians, no matter who wins the next election, Junket John will be in the Dáil. He taints you all.

The Fás Report – miss anything?

There seems to be corruption in the air.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) published its report on Fás, a body already renowned for its flippant spending of our money, today. Oh boy, it does make interesting reading. The newspapers are on it, check them out when you can.

While the headline on is, as usual, correct, it is a severe understatement. “C&AG criticises Fás financial controls” it says… the report is not a criticism, it’s damning indictment. Fás was a mess, a shameful joke of a company, a shambles run by people who were clearly inept.

Most of the interesting information centres around the advertising firms contracted for campaigns and the Corporate Affairs section of Fás, headed by Greg Craig, who has had some attention drawn to him in the past.

The coverage will tell you there is €600,000 of our money unaccounted for, yes. They made us pay €9,200 for a car that never materialised, yes. They spent €620,000 on a advertising campaign that never made air, yes. These are all fucking disgraces. But they also distract, or at least fail to fully illustrate, the evidence of a culture which lacks any sort of professionalism and the level of conscious mismanagement that permeates the company. Continue reading “The Fás Report – miss anything?”

The missing departmental submission

On Friday night the departmental submissions on foot of the McCarthy Report were published on

Gavin has written about the details in the House of the Oireachtas Commission report, and an apparent inaccuracy in their figures on his blog. I have summarised most of the proposals from Education here.

These are important documents that, due largely to the Government’s expert timing, have been hidden beneath other news, leaving the public largely unaware of their details. The details are crucial, they tell what is coming down the tracks, it was an underhand move on the Government’s part to publish late on a Friday…

I was cross-referencing the submissions against the McCarthy report earlier and noticed, there’s one missing. Enterprise.

The dept of finance press office says they are expecting it to be submitted later today.

… Wonder what they’ve spent all this time redacting…

Isn't it cosy in Clifden?

Mark Tighe’s blog is well worth reading. In his latest post he describes how close bankers and developers in Ireland have become during The Boom Years through Kevin Barry and Declan Maher.

Maher is the manager of AIB Clifden in Galway and Barry is an accountant, seemingly with an eye on development, together they’re BMB Partnership/Marketing.

Tighe’s story in The Sunday Times can be read here – it details a situation with a construction project in which they, two local politicians, a local hotelier and a few others, are involved. However, the blog post is more relevant in this context… Continue reading “Isn't it cosy in Clifden?”

Ned O'Keeffe spinning like a top on expenses

On the way into work yesterday I was listening to The Breakfast Show on Newstalk. They were covering political expenses, Fionnan Sheehan was being interviewed again, he mainly reiterated the same points he made previously elsewhere. He was followed by Fianna Fáil’s Ned O’Keeffe.

The presenter, Claire Byrne, grilled O’Keeffe while he ducked and dived, spun and purposefully avoided almost every question put to him.

Have a listen… or read the transcript below without the audio, I think it illustrates his flailing rather better…

Continue reading “Ned O'Keeffe spinning like a top on expenses”

TDs still hiding behind the FOI Act

Fionnan Sheehan, political editor of the Irish Independent, spoke to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about political expenses at about 830am today. It warrants another listen…

Hear hear.

There is no reason why TDs expenses and allowances should not be made public by default. If there is personal or medical information contained in receipts, redact that… but the rest the taxpayer deserves to see. In full. At no cost.

We paid for it. It’s our money. It’s our country. They’re our employees. Accounts, public, today.