PAC investigates Tipperary Hostel

THE ONGOING investigation into an alleged missing €150,000 in the Tipperary Hostel project was raised at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee by the Chairman, Deputy John McGuinness.

THE ONGOING investigation into an alleged missing €150,000 in the Tipperary Hostel project was raised at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee by the Chairman, Deputy John McGuinness.

He asked FAS Assistant Director Conor Dunne about a report which stated that the estimated cost of work on the site to date is approximately €4 million, that some or most of that €4 million was taxpayers’ money and that the project is not yet complete.

“Whose responsibility is it, in terms of ownership of the project, that almost €4 million in taxpayers’ money has been spent on this project to date?” he asked.

“It is now not only a question of an investigation into the spending of €150,000 but an investigation into how this asset will be realised for the State, which has already spent €4 million on it.”

Mr Dunne said there were there were two sources of funding, the first from Pobal, which was spent on materials, and the second from FÁS, which was used to pay workers on the jobs initiative, JI, scheme.

“The project involved refurbishment of a famine hostel outside Tipperary town,” he said. “There are a number of items included in the €150,000. Pobal is conducting an investigation, which I understand is also with the Garda Síochána. Wearing the State’s hat, we provided funding for the scheme which, in our view, was not spent correctly.”

He said a number of corporate governance issues also arise in relation to this initiative. Deputy McGuinness said the reported figure is €4 million of taxpayers’ money and some public donations. The project has now cost the State in the region of €4 million.

“I understand a considerable amount of work remains to be done,” he said. “Will the State now have to write off further moneys in terms of security for the building, etc.? I am interested in knowing what is happening in the regard to the €4 million.

It is one thing if an investigation into how the €150,000 and €4 million was spent is under way, but who is investigating the state of the property and what can be done with it to save the money already invested in it so that there is not a further loss to the State?

Obviously, it would be of benefit to the local community if this project were to be completed. I agree on the need to investigate what happened in regard to the €150,000 and the €4 million but I would like to know if our €4 million is being protected in terms of the construction and works already completed. It is not good enough to just say there is an investigation going on.”

Mr. Conor Dunne: “FÁS halted funding of the scheme because of impropriety. I cannot answer the Chairman’s other question. I do not know.”

Chairman: “Who can answer it?”

Mr. Conor Dunne: “The Chairman would have to ask those who established the jobs initiative scheme.”

Supreme Court heard no proper legal argument in X case - DEPUTY McGrath

The Supreme Court in the X case did not hear proper legal arguments on suicide, South Tipperary Independent Deputy Mattie McGrath told the Dáil.

Speaking during the lengthy debate on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill he said there was no proper, in-depth hearing. “How could the court deliberate properly without hearing the evidence on both sides - for and against?” he asked. “I put down an amendment previously on the Title of the Bill, which is misleading, erroneous and false.”

The Government, he said, has kept going back to a Supreme Court decision from a long time ago but it ignored a recent Supreme Court judgment, which was unanimous, having heard all the facts, on the misappropriation and misspending of money voted by the House in the children’s referendum.

“We can ignore it when it suits us,” he said. “We can use it and abuse it when that suits us. That is what the Government has been doing.

The separation of powers is quite clear for the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. There was a total absence of medical science at the time of the Supreme Court decision in 1992.

We have moved on in so many ways. Great progress has been made in our understanding of medical science and health care. As the Minister of State, Deputy Creighton, has said, the absence of a treatment plan in the Bill illustrates that it is cobbled together legislation involving Fine Gael kowtowing to the Labour Party. I would not even call it the Labour Party, but the takeover Labour Party. It is not the Labour Party I knew.”

A further contradiction is that where a person facing deportation claims suicide, it is to no avail, he said. “A person that is suicidal needs treatment,” he said.

“Abortion is the last treatment any pregnant woman needs. It is not a treatment in any shape or form for a person suffering stress and trauma.

A woman needs to be treated and to have a health care plan worked out. In the fullness of time, everything should be dealt with when the person is able to make a decision. I have heard from women who were hurt by abortion, who were not allowed to attend the committee hearings. To a woman, they told us they felt more suicidal after the fact than before.”

The Bill passed all Stages in the Dáil by 127 votes to 31.