KWETB CEO Sean Ashe and Chairman Jim Ruttle
The CEO and the Chair of the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) refused to answer questions at the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee about an ongoing investigation into the organisation last Thursday, November 16.
Sean Ashe, the CEO of KWETB and its Chairman Cllr Jim Ruttle from Baltinglass declined to answer questions on matters which, they said, might jeopardise the outcome of the investigation.
Mr Ashe told members of of the PAC that he had been advised not to answer the questions by Dr Richard Thorn, who is conducting the investigation into the performance of the KWETB in relation to public procurement, usage and disposal of assets and propriety matters. That investigation was launched on October 4 last.
Complicating matters even further, Cllr Ruttle said that he had not been advised by Dr Thorn as to what he could and could not say to the PAC — although four members of the KWETB have told the Leinster Leader that at a meeting of the Board the day before, Dr Thorn did, in fact, so advise them.
“I don’t recollect any direction from Mr Thorn on this at all,” Cllr Ruttle told the PAC. He said he was “an independent-minded person on things like that. “I’ve not received any direction from Dr Thorn.” Nothwithstanding this, he refused to answer questions on the investigation saying he thought Dr Thorn “deserved the time and the space to carry out his investigation.”
Vice-Chairman Brendan Weld suggested there might have been a misunderstanding. Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy said she believed CEO, Chair and Vice-Chair should stand aside for the duration of the investigation, and two other members Cllr Theresa Murray and Cllr Jennifer Whitmore confirmed that Dr Thorn had advised the Board in relation to the PAC hearing.