Jim Ruttle,seen during a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee.
Jim Ruttle and Brendan Weld, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Kildare and Wicklow Education Training Board (KWETB) have resigned their positions, citing, among other things, a lack of support for the heavy workload involved in the roles at present.
Both will remain on the board, although the move means that unless KWETB appoints a new chair and vice-chair at their next board meeting on December 21, it will have neither a CEO, a chair or vice-chair, given that the current CEO Sean Ashe is set to retire at the end of December.
The move comes as the KWETB is under investigation since early October after the Department of Education and the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) failed to get satisfactory answers from the KWETB in relation to certain matters.
Vice-Chairman, Cllr Brendan Weld, has also resigned
The pair announced their resignations last night, (Thursday, November 30) in an email to their fellow board members. Speakling to the Leinster Leader, Fine Gael county councillor Brendan Weld, said he had had the support of most of his fellow board members.
He said he was determined to remain on the board to cooperate with the investigation and the Comptroller and Auditor General.
He emphasised that both in his role and that of Cllr Ruttle’s as non-executive chair and vice-chairs, that they had received “very little help from anyone” in relation to the investigation.
“It felt like we were the ones that we on trial, but I was never informed of any the problems until I got the call from the Comptroller and Auditor General.”
In his resignation statement which has been seen by the Leinster Leader, Cllr Ruttle noted that the investigation was focused on procurement and related matters, which he said was “an area I have no involvement with at the time in question and covering matters which pre-dated my appointment as the Chairman elected in October 2016.
“In my role now however the matters being raised fell to me to be dealt with and I have been doing so diligently for some time.”
He noted that the matters had “inevitably taken a huge amount of my time”.
“During recent months, for example, I have had almost thirty meetings in connection with the issues raised by C&AG. It should be noted that I am a non-executive Chairman. I am not provided with resources, such as secretarial services, which makes this situation almost impossible. While all of this was going on in the course of the last few months I have also had major surgery which took a heavy toll.”
In the light of all of this, he had decided to resign although he indicated to the investigator that he would continue to provide whatever continuing assistance he could, “but from now on as an ordinary member of the KWETB.
In his statement, Cllr Weld thanked his fellow board members for their assistance and co-operation throughout his tenure with them. “It has always been my primary concern to partake in the betterment of education, the welfare of children and the environments in which they learn.”
He said it was “with regret and shock that I learnt of the circumstances that are currently under investigation having had no previous knowledge nor indication of any issues from any member of the Executive”. He said that while his knowledge of what was being investigated was limited, he was “fully committed to assisting, where possible, with the continued investigation”.
Newbridge councillor Fiona McLoughlin Healy, who is a member of the board of KWETB, has called for the new chairperson to be somebody who has had no role in relation to any of the contracts which are under investigation, to avoid a conflict of interest.