Cllr Jennifer Whitmore - queried why the board was paying for advice it found difficult to access
Kildare and Wicklow Education Training Board (KWETB) is facing a legal bill of €83,000 even though its board members have had difficulty getting access to the advice that was provided.
The board has also not been formally told who engaged the Dublin-based legal firm, Philip Lee. At this morning’s meeting of the board, the members were informed of the outstanding bill, and told that Philip Lee is pressing the organisation for payment.
While it was agreed that the bill itself could not be queried in the sense that Philip Lee had in good faith delivered the service it was asked to provide, board members expressed concern at a lack of information being provided to them about it.
Philip Lee is not the KWETB’s normal legal advisors and it is understood that the advice was sought in relation to an investigation of the KWETB which was initiated by the Department of Education and the Comptroller and Auditor General.
A KWETB staff member, Joe Kelly, told the meeting that the organisation’s executive had been asked to provide a list of names of legal firms, which they did.
“We are being asked to pay for it, but we don’t know what it is,” Cllr Jennifer Whitmore remarked at this morning’s meeting. “It is important that every bit of legal advice is now made available to us,” she added.
There was a proposal from the new chairman of the board, Noel Merrick, that he would investigate the matter between now and the next meeting early in the new year.
However Cllr Whitmore said the matter was time-sensitive. And Mr Kelly also expressed concern at delaying the payment of an outstanding bill. He said that the advice was sought in good faith.
Mr Merrick said he had been handed a document moments before the discussion arose with a summary of the legal advice. Reading it, Cllr Whitmore noted that the document was dated October 9 and was addressed to the board, and yet they had never seen it before.
Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy commented that the board could not “employ professional advisors without a resolution of the board. Who engaged the legal advisors?”
“We’ll endeavour to get the answers for that,” Mr Merrick responded.
The matter was adjourned to the next meeting.