Shane Ross

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Archive for November, 2008

World travel, golf and beauty salons for FAS chiefs

FAS, the State jobs agency with the €20m-a-week budget, has spent a huge amount of taxpayers’ money on round-the-world business class travel for top executives and their wives, luxury hotels in the US, gifts and other entertainment.

A Sunday Independent investigation found that Fas staff have enjoyed top-of-the- range limousines and chauffeurs, gourmet meals and golf games in sunny Florida.

In just four years, Fas has spent €643,000 on transatlantic travel for chief executive Rody Molloy, his wife, top staff and guests. Fas says it was promoting the Fas Science Challenge Intern Programme.

Gifts for a Government minister were included in expenditure. Corporate Affairs director Greg Craig, now on sick leave, carried a company credit card with a limit of €76,000.

Last December the troubled agency, currently the target of two inquiries, paid €12,071 for two business-class round-the-world tickets for a departing official to attend a skills event. Stopovers included Tokyo, Honolulu and San Francisco.

Fas chairman, trade union boss Peter McLoone, accompanied chief executive Rody Molloy on a €7,300-a-head return business class flight to Orlando for a week-long stay.

On another trip, Mr Molloy charged the State agency $942 for a game of golf in the Grand Cypress Resort Golf club. In a further display of affluence, after a €200-a-head dinner at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel, the jobs agency’s bosses gave hotel staff a €908 tip.

Last night, a spokesman for Fas responded that the US programme had cost €6.645m. Of that, about €600,000 was spent on travel, €1.2m on accommodation — mostly for students — and €170,000 on transportation.

Asked why Mr Molloy often brought his wife, the spokesman said: “It is my understanding that she was invited and it is the appropriate protocol for her to go.”

FAS chiefs enjoy a good life

Luxury business-class flights for boss Rody Molloy and his wife, a €7,000 night out in a private dining room at the five-star Merrion Hotel, golfing at exclusive clubs, beauty salons and pay-per-view hotel movies are among the more extravagant costs incurred by top brass at beleaguered state job-creation outfit FAS. After a three-month investigation, Shane Ross and Nick Webb blow the lid off the rampant spending excesses of the key officials at the crisis ridden semi-state body


Bring Broadband Off Backburner

Broadband is still being neglected as an issue by the present Government. Our economic progress will bethreatened even more if we do not invest in solid infrastrusture. Public spending has been grossly mis-directed in the past, broadband would be of national benefit. As our country slips even further into a deep recession, the present government shows no long-term vision for the future. Although Minister Eamon Ryan and his Fianna Fáil colleagues voted my Bill down I believe it is relevant and realistic. It could be a no-nonsense road map for the government.

Please click here to read the main points of the Bill or here to read my Broadband Bill in its entirety.

FÁS Financial Fiasco

This week I have been inundated with calls, emails and letters from people across the country. Almost all are ordinary people with extraordinary stories of wasted public funds. Lack of accountability and lax attitudes towards tax-payers money has been bleeding the country dry. I will keep fighting to ensure that those responsible are brought to book.

Centre For Deaf Studies Survival In The Balance


Building Societies And Banks Blunder Behind Government

The Senate is preparing to debate on the economy, which will also include the issue of the banks.  The banks also include the building societies because they have also been bailed out by the Government. We should realise when we talk about recapitalisation, which will undoubtedly happen very shortly because it will be forced on them, that the banks have been deliberately misleading the people about what they must do.


Ice Cold On Planet Denial

BRIAN Goggin came out to play on RTE radio’s Morning Ireland programme last Thursday. The Bank of Ireland boss had been in the deep freeze for weeks. A guy buried in the deep freeze could convince himself of anything. And Brian did precisely that. He told RTE’s Christopher McKevitt that all is fundamentally fine at his bank. In Brian Goggin’s world everybody else is out of step. The US, the UK and Europe are out of step with Ireland. The stock market has got it wrong. Seen from the deep freeze, the Bank of Ireland does not need new capital. Poor Brian was in denial. So are his colleagues in Anglo Irish Bank, AIB and Irish Life and Permanent. The old cartel is flourishing, cohabiting on Planet Denial. Planet Denial is a cold place; but there must be plenty of the happy, happy stuff out there. On Planet Denial the entrenched aliens are paid millions while their detached shareholders lose 90 per cent of their money.


We’re Not On Obama’s Radar


My last day of a week in Boston. I switch on CNN to hear Barack Obama fingering Ireland as one of the countries to which the USA exports labour.
He specifically brackets us with India and the old Eastern block. Ominously, he is answering a question about where he will raise money to fund his middle class tax cuts. Corporate taxes are his target. Ireland is specifically in his sights.
I freeze, but I cannot blame Obama. He owes Ireland nothing and has done little to court the Irish vote. A president without Irish baggage is not good news for us. Any move by Barack to coerce US multinationals home could be devastating for Ireland. The first leg of the Celtic Tiger — construction — is already amputated. The removal of the second leg — multinationals — would cripple Ireland. If Barack is elected tomorrow, Brian Cowen should take the first aeroplane to Illinois.
On the plane home I read John Murray of RTE’s hilarious new book on business jargon. It will make a great Christmas present. It takes pomposity apart. It pokes fun at captains of industry by name and takes lumps out of all the social partnership waffle.