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Bus operator didn't get Bus Eireann contract because they 'didn't pay for an inspector's trip to Alicante'

The bus operator says that the payments were “the cost of doing business with Bus Eireann”.

Image: Barry Cronin

THE WHISTLEBLOWER AT the centre of allegations of corruption at Bus Eireann says that they were denied a school bus contract for refusing to contribute to a senior staff members’ “cash holiday fund”.

In an affidavit made public this morning, the former bus operator says that they had been working on a contract for Bus Eireann since 2002.

However, in the 2011/12 school year, they say that their contract was not renewed “as I did not contribute to a cash holiday fund to Alicante, Spain for a Bus Eireann inspector”.

The taxi driver and bus operator says that they were given the school contract without submitting or going through a tendering process, saying there was no negotiation on price and that they were paid IR£95 per day for 185 days.

Blacklist

The affidavit says that the whistleblower was told of a “blacklist” operated by inspectors at Bus Eireann, which left them feeling “insecure” about their contract.

However, they were later told that a larger vehicle was needed and that they should upgrade. Taking out a bank loan, the whistleblower did just that, having been told by the inspector, who was overseeing 300 bus and taxi routes, that they would be put forward for a route.

The whistleblower was paid €160 a day on a new route to bring special needs children and one assistant to school, but says that there was an “undercurrent of intimidation”.

They further allege that free taxi services were extracted from them by the inspector, whose name is redacted in the document. They say that the inspector pressed them to carry out the inspectors work or personal errands, including collecting friends of the inspector from the airport.

Favours

The whistleblower says that they were doing favours for the inspector “two or three times a week”, feeling that they could not bring up the issue, for fear of losing their contract.

In one instance, during the December 2009 snowfall, the whistleblower was called to collect a person from Bus Eireann offices, the journey taking 6 hours in total, with no payment.

The affidavit says that when in the taxi, the inspector and an area manager would speak in threatening terms about other operators.

The document goes on to say that there was a “whip round” for the inspector by between 12 and 16 bus operators to fund holidays in Spain for the inspector. This was as well as the handing over of cash at Christmas.

At one stage, another bus operator had claimed to have paid a gift of €900 to the inspector.

“Sick of the back handers”

The whistleblower then says that they refused to contribute to a subsequent holiday because they didn’t have the cash and “felt that I had enough of the back handers”.

They were then told that their routes would then be going out to tender and he then lost his contract the following year.

These payments, they say, were “the cost of doing business with Bus Eireann”.

After losing the routes, they are facing “financial turmoil”, with a vehicle, bought on the advice of the inspector, about to be repossessed.

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

Read: Bus Eireann: We treat corruption claims with the utmost gravity

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