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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

Ministers call on Bus Éireann whistleblower to contact gardaí over bribery claims

It follows a long-running controversy over how a school bus transport scheme for children with disabilities is run.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 8.35pm

THREE MINISTERS ARE calling on a Bus Éireann whisteblower to contact gardaí regarding allegations of ‘kickbacks’ being offered for bus route contracts.

It follows a long-running controversy over how a school bus transport scheme for children with disabilities is run, paid for by the Department of Education and worth €166 million per year.

An internal investigation prompted by the Public Accounts Committee found no need to take further action or to report the matter to gardaí.

However, an investigation by the Irish Mail on Sunday found whisteblowers had alleged that “managers at Bus Eireann received kickbacks such as free holidays, gifts, and free transport in return for guaranteeing contracts”.

It also carries a transcript of a taped conversation between a Bus Éireann official and a whisteblower, in which this alleged perks for contracts were outlined.

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar, Minister of State for Commuter & Public Transport Alan Kelly, and Minister of State for Training & Skills Ciaran Cannon issued this joint statement this afternoon:

The Ministers said corruption is a criminal offence and they treat any such allegations extremely seriously.

The Ministers have called on the former contractor to immediately report this matter to the Gardaì and to furnish any evidence in his possession to the Gardaì. An Garda Sìochána is the only body with the competence to investigate allegations of a crime of this nature.

Equally, the Ministers also stated that all individuals are entitled to have their good name protected and must be considered innocent until proven otherwise.

The Ministers have sought a full report on this matter from Bus Eireann and have invited the former contractor to send any evidence in his possession to the Departments of Transport, Tourism & Sport and to the Department of Education & Skills.

Originally published 4.43pm

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Nicky Ryan

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