Diary of Brian Lenihan in spreadsheet format

Spreadsheet – Diary, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan Sept 1 2008, April 30 2009 inclusive.

The official diary of the Minister for Finance displayed in a spreadsheet for easy reading. It covers the period between September 1st 2008 and April 30 2009, including the bank guarantee. Originally posted here in PDF format. You can download the spreadsheet document for your own records by clicking File > Download As > Excel/Text.

Gav is traveling through the middle-east at the moment (bringing down various governments there as required by his membership of the New World Order – don’t bother commenting, I’ve admitted it, you know who you are) and I’m working on stories which I can’t say much about yet (yes, due to membership of the Illuminati) so it’ll be more quiet than normal ’round here for the next week or so. We’re talking about two posts between Mondays and Fridays.

Normality will soon return, be assured, there are things in the pipeline.

Props to Steve White for moving this info from a PDF to a spreadsheet, he also informs us that April and March are incorrectly ordered in the PDF supplied by the department, you might want to note that if you have taken a copy of the original.

O'Donoghue's expenses – for the record

[cross posted to gavinsblog.com]

For the record. Total expenses so far revealed (2006 – 2009): more than €700,000.

Incurred as Minister for Arts Sport and Tourism:

JOD Part 1 (India)
JOD Part 2 (Birmingham)
JOD Part 3 (Berlin)
JOD Part 4 (London)
JOD Part 5 (London)
JOD Part 6 (Venice)
JOD Part 7 (Manchester)
JOD Part 8 (New York)
JOD Part 9 (Turin)
JOD Part 10 (Stuttgart)
JOD Part 11 (Paris)

Incurred as Ceann Comhairle, 2007 – 2009:

Explanatory document on CC expenses

Schedule 1 – Allowances and Expenses
Schedule 2 – Domestic flights
Schedule 3 – Details of foreign travel
Schedule 4 – Official entertainment


Domestic Travel 1
Domestic Travel 2
Domestic Travel 3
Domestic Travel 4
Domestic Travel 5

1 Stop Shop Constituency Expenses

Those NTMA pay scales

Last week I blogged a response I had received from the Department of Finance concerning Government consultations over the establishment of NAMA. The response was prompted by an FOI request, seeking the titles, dates and authors of consultation reports for the Government (seeking the documents themselves would have been refused outright).

What it brought to light, in a small way, was how little in-house expertise the Government has. Reports were written for the Government by Merrill Lynch, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Arthur Cox, Peter Bacon, Rothschild, and HSBC. If you are wondering who drafted the NAMA legislation, the answer lies somewhere between all of these companies and people, the Department of Finance and the Minister. It would also be fair to say that the Irish banks must have had input into the process, since they are the ones who are being saved from bankruptcy.

Many of these companies though were engaged not by the Department of Finance, but by the National Treasury Management Agency. They are the guys who issue sovereign bonds and manage the national debt, or as their website says:

The 1990 Act empowers the NTMA “to borrow moneys for the Exchequer and to manage the National Debt on behalf of and subject to the control and general superintendence of the Minister for Finance and to perform certain related functions and to provide for connected matters”.

Now my interest is piqued because the salary of NTMA chief executive Michael Somers is secret. The same is true, it appears, of all other staff at the NTMA.

Thanks to some helpful readers, from what I can gather, NTMA pay bands are as follows:

91 members of staff are paid below €80,000 a year.
22 staff are paid between €80,000 and €100,000 a year.
27 staff are paid between €100,000 and €200,000 a year.
9 staff are paid over €200,000 a year.

The average bonus paid in 2008, for work during 2007, was €21,447.

I make that 149 members of staff. I also make that a bonus fund mean of €3.1 million for 2007. If we take the lower tier staff, and take the upper range of figures, we could surmise that at the maximum budget allowed (if people are all paid at the top of the range, which is unlikely) is:


Which would make €14.8m at the maximum allowable wage for all staff collectively. Add that to bonuses of another €3.1m. This excludes the 9 staff, since there is no ceiling there. We are hitting €20m in staff costs alone, minus directors. It is rumoured that Mr Somers earns anywhere between €200,000 and €1,000,000 a year.

The question is this: As a taxpayer am I entitled to know the salary of Mr Somers, and other highly paid staff at the NTMA? Is the public interest better served by this information being available, or is it better served by it being secret? The Government would argue that such high wages are needed to get the skills necessary from the private sector, and if these people were not working in the public sector, they could be earning more in the private sector – therefore we need high wages.

I don’t buy it. Where is the spirit of public service, like we see in the US? I am certain that many of the people working in the finance arms of the Obama administration want to work in service of the State because it is a part of a citizen’s duty. The salaries of many high ranking officials are freely available too. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner earns $191,300 a year, minus expenses. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke earns the same amount minus expenses (Although Geithner’s predecessor had an estimated net worth of $500m thanks to his years at Goldman Sachs).

The salaries of people who are being paid by the taxpayer, such as people at the NTMA, should be published on their website. We have to ask ourselves how the public interest is served by keeping this information secret, and if any arguments in favour of secrecy have merit. The interest in their salaries is not prurient, it is simply how accountable systems work. Publish the information, then we know.

No big deal, right?

So the next question is this: Under what section and subsection of the FOI act would a request for salaries be refused?

Fás Internal Audit (INV 137) now online

TheStory has obtained a copy of the internal audit which triggered the recent C&AG report into Fás and we’re digging through the details. We believe we have uncovered a mass of new information, the details of which we will publish early next week.

For now, we’re simply going to put the document into the public domain. It is heavily redacted.

However, The Irish Times has seen an unredacted version and reported some of its contents. The Sunday Times has also covered the story in some depth, including this piece, probably the most comprehensive one on the subject.

The document also contains two names which, it appears, were accidentally unredacted. As we are most unlike other media, who have teams of lawyers to check each item published for legal issues, we have added redactions ourselves in those two areas. This is simply us being highly cautious. But we assure you, the unredecated names will be published once we get advice on the matter. Note: Our redactions are on page 7 and page 31.

The audit was the result by an anonymous letter sent to Mary Harney in 2005, when she was Enterprise Minister. The letter made seven allegations specifically against Greg Craig, who was the director of corporate affairs in Fás at the time. It is important to note that the audit team found “no evidence” to support six of the seven allegations and that the one other was only partially true. Mr Craig is now director of health and safety in Fás following a period of paid suspension.

While our digging has uncovered, we believe, some odd connections between some companies named in the report and various other people of interest, we’re at a loss in some areas.

We’d appreciate help uncovering information about a number of companies and one individual. In particular we’d like to answer the “how did…” type questions raised about them in the audit.

The companies are:

Ultimate Communications, directed by Niall Gallen and Audrey Browne. We’d like to know if this company had any connection with Greg Craig (who appears to have known many of the contractors personally or have dealt with them professionally for a long period) or political parties. The company has an address in Kiltallaght House, Grangebellew, Co. Louth. They were contracted to build the Fás website 10 days after they incorporated and received €3.55m worth of work from Fás in their first year operating.

Helm O’Connor O’Sullivan, directed by Donald Helme and Dale Parry with an address in Serpentine Avenue, Ballsbridge. An advertising agency.

Posterplan Ltd (now called Kinetic Advertising), directed by Brian Townshend, Carol Ann Hogan and Simon Rupert Durham with an address at 31 Ballsbridge Terrace. Shareholders include POA Holdings Limited. Posterplan are a well-known company who sell advertising space on billboards, bus shelters and the likes…

Display Contracts Ltd, directed by James O’Brien and James O’Brien Junior with an address in Beau Lane House, Mercer Street, Dublin 2. Shareholders include Adrienne O’Brien, James O’Brien, James E O’Brien, Margaret O’Brien, Nofleen O’Brien, Paula O’Brien and Tony O’Brien.

Design House“, the only information we could uncover about this company is in the report, it says it is directed by a Robert Saunders.

We’d also like to know the name of a “daughter of a well-known property developer and friend of Greg Craig“. That’s how she is described in the report. We have an idea as to their names but would like confirmation, or an additional lead.

Of course all of these companies and individuals were surely operating entirely lawfully in all of their dealings, including those with Fás, but we’d like to know a little more about them, how their structured, and their contact, if any, with Fás and in particularly, Greg Craig.

Tips can be sent to tips [at] thestory.ie or we can be contacted individually via coughlanmp [at] gmail.com or gavinsblog [at] gmail.com

More early next week…

JO'D expenses and allowances documents

Update: Word reaches TheStory that these documents were dumped solely because they were released to The Sunday Tribune earlier today via FOI at the cost of €600.

The Tribune were charged for the documents (€600 is a massive fee for an FOI) then they were put in the Dáil library almost immediately.

This is the most incredible behaviour from John O’Donoghue in attempting to get one over The Sunday Tribune who have consistently been a thorn in the side of expense-account-abusing public representatives for the last number of months.

John O’Donoghue clearly realises he can only hide for so long.

Update 2:

I have tabulated the foreign travel into a spreadsheet.

Total cost for foreign travel, 2007 – 2009: €89,277.74
Total cost for official entertainment: €5,010.15
Total cost for domestic travel: €13,305.57

All credit to the Sunday Tribune and Ken Foxe for getting this information out. Albeit earlier than they had intended – Gavin

Update 3:

All receipts (PDFs):

Explanatory document on CC expenses

Schedule 1 – Allowances and Expenses
Schedule 2 Domestic flights
Schedule 3 Details of foreign travel
Schedule 4 – Official entertainment


Domestic Travel 1
Domestic Travel 2
Domestic Travel 3
Domestic Travel 4
Domestic Travel 5

1 Stop Shop Constituency Expenses

John O’Donoghue’s cost claims while Ceann Comhairle were unexpectedly put into the Dáil library today – yes, a Friday, the Friday before Lisbon results, no less.

I’m told they are absolutely massive, far too big to send in an email, but the House of the Oireachtas press office has kindly supplied me with partial summaries. They’re all linked below…

I haven’t had time to check them out, I’m working on another project – all I spotted was the number of flights between Dublin and Kerry. It looks like he flew from one to the other once a week on average between June 07 and December 08. Where was his ministerial car? I hope it wasn’t following him down on the road, as I’ve heard some ministers have ordered in the past.

Anyway, enjoy…

Overview of all payments to current Ceann Comhairle from the House of Oireachtas

Details of expenses and allowances claimed by Ceann Comhairle from Houses of Oireachtas

Details of domestic flights taken by CC

Details of foreign travel undertaken by CC

Library version of official entertainment bill

Remember, down the bottom of each spreadsheet may be a number of other tabs, what you see initially may only be part of the story.

You can gain access to the Dáil library and examine the documents in full yourself. I plan on doing so on my next day off, sometime next week.

Help us with The Big Dig

Update: We’ve removed date of births after a question about data protection. We don’t think we’d have a problem with it but we’re being conservtive, it’s too early to ask for readers to donate to our litigation battles! We had most of the info already and kept a copy, just removed it from the public doc…

Myself and Gavin are working on a number of long-term projects looking into the financial and business backgrounds of our public representatives.

One of these projects could be thought of as the deepest dig into the business interests of Irish politcians undertaken… well, ever. We’ll be looking at all serving TDs and their business interests (not just in Ireland), whether they’re director, manager, or shareholder, and doing similar digs on other public representatives, over the next few months.

Be assured, we have some nice shovels at our disposal.

To begin, as this is a crowdsourcing experiment, we’re asking readers for help. I’ve set up a document which can be publicly edited that we’d would love some assistance completing.

The categories that require attention are:

  • TDs Name in English (if Irish used)
  • Profession (pre-politics)
  • Date of birth
  • Partner’s name (pre-marriage and/or if possible, post-marriage)
  • Partner’s date of birth
  • Obviously, we don’t expect to be able to crowdsource all this information – I suspect there’ll be almost no available data on partner’s date of birth – but each nugget will be useful. Of course, we’ll have to confirm it ourselves before we publish any resulting stories, but this is to give us some direction.

    It also saves us a fair few hours which we can use to dig about rather than spend building the foundations of the investigation.

    All the relevant information we gather will be made public and, if applicable, connected to the KildareStreet database, upon completion of the diggin’.

    And vandals, if there are any out there, we can roll the document back to X:XXpm/am at any point, ruining it is simply a waste of your time.

    Help us find out more about your TDs’ business history

    Thanks in advance.

    Minister Martin Cullen goes to London

    Other details of Martin Cullen’s expenses can be read here and here.

    These documents cover a trip to London in November of last year. Minister Cullen arrived in London late on Thursday met Lord Coe, presumably to talk about the Olympics, on Friday, didn’t have any appointments for the weekend, then attended a tourism-related event on Monday and Tuesday.

    The total expenses figure was €2,353.

    €521 was unvouched, the rest went on limousines. Much of the cost of limos was from pick-ups of embassy officials and keeping drivers on stand-by (“5 hours as directed”, “8 hours as directed”) over long periods.

    And yep, it’s Cartel Limousines again.

    Ken Foxe,  Public Affairs Correspondent with The Sunday Tribune, supplied us with these documents. His first book, REVENGE, is on sale soon.

    Minister Martin Cullen's Paddy's Day Spending

    Martin Cullen’s expenses are not madly abusive, he’s no John O’Donoghue. The only part of this that made me raise an eyebrow was the €444 spent on the BAA VIP Suite.

    These are the files from his trip to the US for St.Patrick’s Day earlier this year, the Indo covered it at the time.

    He and his private secretary traveled from Dublin to Heathrow to Houston then moved onto Miami where they spent Patty’s Paddy’s Day. Total spend was approximately €10,500 according to the Indo.

    The documents are pretty tricky to total if you’re not used to reading their likes, plus the ones I have are only for Cullen personally, so my total is lower than the one reported in the Indo.

    As far as I can tell, his flights cost a little more than €6,500, there’s no details as to the flight of which he availed. The Houston Hilton; three nights at $139 each is €330. Then the €444 in the BAA VIP suite. The €868 on page two looks like subsistence expenses…

    So my total is around €8000.

    Eh, does this mean the private secretary’s trip cost just €2,500? Or the figure supplied to the Indo is incorrect? Tell me what I’ve missed here…

    Cullen US St Patrick’s Day 2009 1
    Cullen US St Patrick’s Day 2009 2
    Cullen US St Patrick’s Day 2009 3
    Cullen US St Patrick’s Day 2009 4
    Cullen US St Patrick’s Day 2009 5
    Cullen US St Patrick’s Day 2009 6
    Cullen US St Patrick’s Day 2009 7

    PS Sorry for the delay on these, I’m working a lot and my scanner is fairly slow. I knocked this post together in ten minutes whilst hungover, so there’s also a possibility I got my maths wrong.

    These documents have been graciously supplied to us by Ken Foxe, Public Affairs Correspondent with The Sunday Tribune.

    Minister Martin Cullen goes to New York

    Ken Foxe has supplied us with hard copies of Martin Cullen’s expenses, we’ll be scanning them and putting them online over the next few days.

    They’re jpegs at present, I will convert them to PDFs at the earliest opportunity so they can be searched via Google.

    First up: New York, June 2009. Fitzpatricks Hotels, limousines and €2500 on flights.

    Cullen New York 1
    Cullen New York 2
    Cullen New York 3
    Cullen New York 4
    Cullen New York 5
    Cullen New York 6
    Cullen New York 7
    Cullen New York 8
    Cullen New York 9
    Cullen New York 10
    Cullen New York 11

    Any goss? Let us know – tips AT thestory DOT ie or through the comment box below.

    If you have an FOI you’ve finished with, or a document you feel should be made public, please send them on to the aforementioned email address. All sources will be credited or kept anonymous as per request. Alternatively we’re very happy to collect and return any documents supplied once we have scanned them (we usually get time to do about ten pages a day).

    The second donations spreadsheet will be published later this week.

    Aside: Wouldn’t it be far better if the Government did this themselves on an annual basis? Sure would save us some hassle…

    Ken Foxe is Public Affairs Correspondent with The Sunday Tribune. His first book, REVENGE, is on sale soon.