THE OIREACHTAS PUBLIC Accounts Committee will meet today to investigate an ‘unofficial’ Siptu bank account, into which State bodies paid more than €4million.
The fund was used to bring civil servants abroad on trips for St Patrick’s Day as well as other occasions – with 18 visits to the USA among those paid for, the committee heard in April.
It was under the control of two union officials, but was not an official union account. Money was paid in by the HSE in what PAC chairman John McGuinness called “a major failure of accountability”.
According to McGuinness, HSE documentation shows that €1.154million of payments do not have appropriate documentation to back them up.
He said: “This episode shows what can happen when proper controls are not stipulated when money is handed over to a third party. There was a major failure of governance and accountability in the use of these funds.”
The committee will consider a report on the account prepared by Siptu. McGuinness said:
The SIPTU report points the finger clearly at the Department of Health, which set up these procedures, and the HSE and concludes that the HSE should have provided greater clarity on fund usage when it agreed that money would be given to a union for onward dispersal. At the end of the day, taxpayers’ money was not used appropriately.
All remaining funds in the account have now been returned to the Exchequer.