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Taoiseach denies turning blind eye to HSE waste

Brian Cowen tells the Dáil he will not be ignoring the controversial report that showed reckless spending.

31 unaccounted-for trips abroad were among the rampant spending uncovered.
31 unaccounted-for trips abroad were among the rampant spending uncovered.
Image: lms.photo

THE GOVERNMENT has said it will deal comprehensively with the findings of a report, to be officially published tomorrow, which will show massive wastes in a HSE fund for training.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Dáil that he was not turning a blind eye to the wastes outlined in the audit.

The audit report – completed in June, due for publication tomorrow, and leaked to RTÉ News yesterday – found that:

  • Over €2.5m of the €60m SKILL budget for training low-grade staff had been paid over to an account named the SIPTU National Health and Local Authority Levy account – an account SIPTU’s Head Office says it did not control
  • Reimbursement of claims worth €348,000 were backed up with inadequate documentation
  • No official records existed for 31 foreign trips by SKILL – some of which were taken by the spouses of officials
  • €1,586 was spent on a retirement party
  • Over €12,500 was spent on taxis
  • Funds were also used for mobile phones, laptops, home broadband, travel, subsistence, gifts, and gratuities.

Speaking during leaders’ questions in the Dáil today, Enda Kenny condemned the government for merely congratulating the HSE on discovering the waste instead of criticising it in the first place.

Cowen, however, said the Comptroller & Auditor General was dealing with the audit and that the Public Accounts Committee, which receives the report tomorrow, would also be investigating.

His insistence came after health minister Mary Harney told RTÉ’s Prime Time that said such waste was “not acceptable”.

In numbers: How SKILL spent its funds >

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Gavan Reilly

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