Members of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will question the heads of the organisations involved with establishing and administering the controversial SKILL training programme and those who had oversight of the partnership programme at tomorrow’s (16th) meeting of the Committee.
The CEO of the HSE, Cathal Magee, the Secretary General of the Department of Health, Michael Scanlan and former General Secretary of SIPTU, Bill Attley who was head of the SKILL steering group will attend the meeting.
It has emerged that over €4 million of State funds were paid into a bank account known as the SIPTU national health and local authority levy fund, which it has emerged was not an official union account. About €2.3 million paid into this account came from the Department of Health and was channelled by the HSE, while just under €1 million came from the HSE Partnership fund.
It seems that much of this money was spent on excessive foreign travel by individuals whose relevance to the trip was questionable. An audit report has been unable to determine the relevance of these trips. There are also serious concerns regarding the proper oversight and governance of the funds.
Committee Chairman, Bernard Allen TD said;
“The information which has come to light to date on this issue points to waste and poor return for the taxpayer. It appears that many people with only tenuous links to the subject matter went on foreign trips to the US and elsewhere paid for by the State.
We now have far more detail into how two major programmes initiated by the Department of Health and Children and run subsequently by the HSE were used. Senior officials collaborated with trade union officials in ensuring that certain consultants were hired, and that particular projects got approval. In addition, a fund to facilitate overseas trips was also operated.
What has come to light in recent days is deeply disturbing. We intend to find out why more controls were not put in place in respect of the funding? Why were the delegations on foreign trips so large and included personnel of whose relevance was questionable? What safeguards have been put in place to ensure tighter regulation in the future?
We will have to await a further report from SIPTU before a full assessment of what went on in Skill and in the Partnership Forum can be undertaken.”
Oireachtas Communications Unit
01 618 4484
Bernard Allen TD, Fine Gael, (Chairman)
Darragh O'Brien TD, Fianna Fáil, (Vice Chairman)
Michael D'Arcy TD, Fine Gael
Michael McGrath TD, Fianna Fáil
Sean Fleming TD, Fianna Fáil
Brendan Kenneally TD, Fianna Fáil
Niall Collins TD, Fianna Fáil
Olwyn Enright TD, Fine Gael
Pat Rabbitte TD, Labour Party
Jim O'Keeffe TD, Fine Gael
Róisín Shortall TD, Labour Party